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Big Sky Conference Basketball Recaps and Highlights from Thursday, 1/14

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - Geno Crandall scored 18 points, on 7-of-10 shooting, with seven assists and three steals Thursday night to help North Dakota beat Montana State 85-68.
    
Quinton Hooker added 17 points, eight assists and three steals, while Corey Baldwin scored 13 and Cortez Seales had 12 for North Dakota.
    
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Hooker and Adam McDermott capped a 16-6 run by North Dakota (8-8, 3-2 Big Sky Conference) that put the Fighting Hawks up 14 with two minutes left in the first half.
    
UND took a 39-28 lead into the break and, after Zach Green's layup pulled Montana State (7-10, 2-3) within nine just more than two minutes into the second, a 3 by Baldwin sparked a 24-9 run that made it 68-44 with 10 minutes to play.

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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - Martin Breunig scored 22 points and Michael Oguine sank a key 3-pointer to lead Montana to a 73-66 win over Northern Colorado on Thursday night.
    
Montana (10-6, 5-0 Big Sky) never trailed in the game but had to hold off Northern Colorado down the stretch, with Oguine's 3 extending the lead back to seven, 68-61, with 1:06 to play. The Grizzlies then sealed the win by going 5 for 6 from the foul line the rest of the way.
    
Walter Wright added 13 points, Bobby Moorehead had 12 and Oguine finished with 11 for Montana, which has won six straight and remains unbeaten in conference play this season. Bruenig fouled out with 34 seconds left.
    
Jordan Wilson led Northern Colorado (4-13, 1-4) with 19 points, Dallas Anglin added 12 points and Jordan Davis and Anthony Johnson had 11 apiece. Wilson fouled out with 32 seconds left.
 

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Montana State senior Jasmine Hommes posted a game-high 20 points and sophomore reserve Hannah Caudill came off the bench to record a career-high five 3-pointers to lift the Bobcats to a 69-61 win over North Dakota for its sixth straight win, Thursday night in Worthington Arena.

Montana State (12-4, 5-0) took almost four minutes to get on the board, and following a Hommes layup at the 6:18 mark, the Bobcats rattled off an 11-4 run to build a 13-8 advantage. MSU pushed the margin to 14 points in the second quarter on a Peyton Ferris basket and entered intermission with a 34-21 lead.

“It took us awhile to get loosened up,” said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. “We did a good job getting deflections and getting some things in the open court, but once we settled in and moved the ball around we were able to get things going on the offensive end.”

North Dakota (5-11, 1-4) came out of halftime and out-scored the Bobcats 40-35, but were unable to get closer than eight points with 8:24 remaining on a Mia Loyd field-goal. MSU took its largest lead of the contest at 62-47 on Caudill’s fifth triple of the game.

“This game was very characteristic of our team,” Binford said. “I thought we competed well and showed a lot of fight. And, we did a good job of responding when North Dakota made a run.”

Hommes finished connecting on nine-of-16 from the field. The Lynden, Washington native also registered a career-high two 3-pointers. Caudill, who went three-of-three from long distance in the first half, finished converting five-of-seven from beyond the arc for 17 points. Also in double-digits was Ferris with 12 points.

For the game, MSU shot 47 percent from the field, while holding the Fighting Hawks to 38 percent. The Bobcats also forced 18 UND turnovers, while committing just 13 miscues. UND held a 35-30 advantage under the boards. Montana States was led under the glass by Ferris with nine rebounds and Riley Nordgaard with eight.

Nordgaard also finished the contest with four steals and point-guard Lindsay Stockton posted six points and six assists.

North Dakota was led by Leah Szabla with 15 points and five rebounds.

With the win, the Bocbats remain atop the Big Sky Conference standings with a 6-0 record. MSU will host Northern Colorado on Saturday afternoon.

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Montana got 20 points from Kayleigh Valley and stayed on the heels of the Big Sky Conference leaders with a 58-46 victory over Northern Colorado Thursday night at Dahlberg Arena.

The Lady Griz (11-5, 4-1 BSC) built a 28-18 halftime lead and led by 10 or more for most of the second half despite going 3 for 20 from 3-point range in the game.

Montana held the Bears (7-8, 2-3 BSC) to 38.6 percent shooting and 16 points below their season scoring average.

“That’s as good as we’ve played defensively this year,” said UM coach Robin Selvig, whose team entered the game allowing 62.2. “I’m really happy with how we came out and worked and talked and made it tough for Northern Colorado to score, particularly in the first half.

“Everybody did a good job on the defensive end, and that was the key. If you go 3 for 20 from three and you’re not playing some good defense, you’re going to be in trouble.”

Valley went 8 for 12 to finish right at her season scoring average, McCalle Feller added 15 points, Alycia Sims had 13 on 5-of-8 shooting, and Haley Vining matched her career high with seven assists.

Though the Lady Griz missed 14 of their first 15 shots from the 3-point line, it was a pair of triples that finally broke the game open in the fourth quarter.

After Rebecca Howell pulled Northern Colorado within seven, 44-37, with eight minutes left, Feller hit from the top of the key. On Montana’s next possession, Feller drove the lane and found Vining spotted up on the right wing. Her shot made it 50-37.

Valley scored a minute later to make it 52-37 and put the game out of reach.

The 3-point shot was a storyline for both teams, because Northern Colorado entered the game ranked 16th in the nation in threes made per game at 8.6.

Not only were the Bears limited to just four makes, they only attempted 10, a season low for a team averaging more than 25 per game. It forced Northern Colorado to play extra deliberately, often deep into the shot clock.

“The thing with them is you can’t play defense for six or seven seconds,” said Selvig. “They run good offense, so you’d better be ready to work for 25 seconds or they’re going to get a good shot.

“We played hard the whole possession almost every time tonight, and I really like to see that. We haven’t held a team in the 40s for a while.”

The 3-for-20 effort from 3-point range was about the only black mark on an otherwise sparkling box score.

Montana was 20 for 34 (.588) from inside the arc, had 16 assists on 23 baskets and turned the ball over just eight times, a big change for a team that had 45 on last week’s road trip to Portland State and Sacramento State.

“We passed the ball well and did a good job taking care of it,” said Selvig. “They are a good defensive team. It’s not easy to get shots. The game would have been easier if we’d made some of our open threes. That would have buried them.

“All in all a pretty good night for us. Every win is a good one in this league.”

Kourteney Zadina led Northern Colorado with 12 points.

The win keeps Montana one of four teams with a single league loss. All are chasing Montana State (12-4, 5-0 BSC), a 69-61 winner over North Dakota Thursday night, and Eastern Washington (10-6, 4-0 BSC), an 85-82 winner at Southern Utah.

The Lady Griz will host UND (5-11, 1-4 BSC) Saturday at 2 p.m. before playing its next three on the road.

In other league games Thursday, Weber State won 102-73 at home over Portland State, Sacramento State won 68-59 at Idaho State, and Idaho won 72-51 at Northern Arizona.

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