GAME NOTES: The final week of the regular season in the Big Sky Conference finds North Dakota hosting the Northern Colorado Bears at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks tonight.
North Dakota came into the week alone in second place in the league standings with a record of 11-7, trailing only Weber State (13-5). The team is enjoying a three-game win streak and has won four of the last five overall, thanks to a narrow 69-67 final versus Eastern Washington on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Northern Colorado is tied with Northern Arizona for fourth in the Big Sky at 10-8, so there is still plenty to be decided as far as seeding for the conference tournament is concerned. Unfortunately for the Bears, they've been taken down in three straight outings, the latest being a 77-68 setback to Portland State at home over the weekend.
North Dakota leads the all-time series by a count of 41-21, although the Bears have won four of the last five encounters.
UNC was led by Tate Unruh who tallied 22 points, while Jordan Wilson contributed 18 and Derrick Barden 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds in the setback to visiting Portland State over the weekend. The Bears came out hot in the first half, leading by as many as 14 points barely eight minutes into the contest, but at the break the team was ahead by just five, 37-32, after shooting only 3-of-10 behind the 3-point line. Unfortunately, the defense allowed PSU to make good on a staggering 71.4 percent from the field in the second half.
In conference games this season, Barden is the top scoring threat based on his 13.4 ppg, having knocked down 58.1 percent from the floor. He is also first on the unit with close to eight rebounds per game, while only one other player is pulling down even four rebounds per contest. Unruh is responsible for 12.8 ppg on 43.2 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line, followed by Tim Huskisson (12.1 ppg) who has been coming off the bench of late.
The meeting with Eastern Washington went down to the wire, tied for the 11th time in the final seconds when Tyler Harvey converted a 3-pointer to make the score 67-67. In the waning moments, Troy Huff played the hero with a jumper to give the hosts the two-point win. Huff finished with 14 points, trailing only Jaron Nash who tallied 21 and pulled down seven rebounds. Jamal Webb came up a rebound shy of a double-double as he posted 13 points for UND as well.
Nash may have been the high man in the scoring department for North Dakota the last time out, but in generally the one to watch is Huff with his 19.4 ppg. One of the school's all-time scorers, Huff is also the key figure on the glass with 7.2 rpg, while Nash checks in with 4.2 rpg. Nash (10.7 ppg) and Aaron Anderson (10.3 ppg) help North Dakota to generate 73.6 ppg on the season, but that's just fractions of a point over what the team is giving up (73.3 ppg).
Northern Colorado has hit a snag in the schedule and already the team is not very strong on the road as it is, so expect the squad to have issues tonight in Grand Forks.
Game Date and Time