GAME NOTES: North Dakota will open up a quick two-game homestand on Thursday, as the Sacramento State Hornets come to town for a Big Sky Conference tilt at the Sioux Center.
The Hornets have won two of their last three games as they embark on a two- game road trip over the next three days. They are still just 6-9 overall and 3-4 in league action, which isn't likely to improve considering they have a 2-7 mark on the road. A visit to Northern Colorado this Saturday is next on the docket.
As for North Dakota, it put an end to a two-game skid lat Saturday with a 72-69 win over Montana State. North Dakota holds just a 6-10 overall mark and a 2-3 ledger against the rest of the Big Sky, although it is 5-2 at home, where it will be again this Saturday versus Northern Arizona.
The history between these two teams has been short-lived, with the squads splitting four encounters, all occurring in the last five years.
Sacramento State earned a 75-64 victory over Eastern Washington in its most recent outing. Dylan Garrity paced the Hornets, who shot 50 percent from the floor, with 18 points, while handing out four of the team's 14 assists.
Piling up points has been a struggle for the Hornets on the season. They are only scoring 65.2 ppg, while shooting 44.2 percent from the floor. Each of those marks is among the three-worst in the Big Sky. Mikh McKinney (13.7 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Garrity (12.6 ppg, 3.2 apg) are each solid passers and scorers, but they do not get much help as the only players on the team averaging more than 7.3 ppg. McKinney had only nine points on 4-of-11 shooting against Eastern Washington. Zach Mills (6.6 ppg) added 17 points in the win for just his fourth game in double figures this season.
North Dakota was just barely able to hold on for its win over Montana State. The team shot 49.1 percent from the floor and held a 21-12 scoring edge at the free-throw line, which proved to be decisive. Aaron Anderson knocked down four 3-poitners and finished with a team-high 18 points.
The victory occurred despite a relatively quiet night from Troy Huff, who is the Big Sky's leading scorer. Huff (20.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), who is also North Dakota's best performer on the glass, dropped in 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting against Montana State. Since Huff has usually paced the team, Anderson (10.7 ppg) and Jaron Nash (11.3 ppg) have been able to succeed as complementary scorers. However, the list of scoring options dries up quickly from there, with no other player averaging more than 6.4 ppg.
Returning to his home floor should help Huff bounce back from a pedestrian outing, by his standards, against Montana State. As long as Anderson and Nash can make shots when given the opportunity, North Dakota should prevail.
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