Through their first two games of the season, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks have been piling up the points. They put up 98 points in the season opener, and followed that up with a 94-point effort last time out.
On Sunday, the Fighting Hawks were looking to win their third straight game to open the season, something they haven’t done since the 2002-2003 season. Sunday’s game against the Presentation College Saints (NAIA) marked the third of three straight home games to start the year.
In the opening minutes, the Saints hung around with North Dakota, and they held a 17-15 lead with 11:01 to play in the first half. Elijah Valdez came out of the gate firing for Presentation College, scoring 10 points in the opening eight-plus minutes to pace the Saints.
Then, North Dakota started to take over.
Sophomore guard Geno Crandall recorded 15 of his game-high 17 points in the opening half, as North Dakota was able to break things open in the final ten minutes. The Fighting Hawks took a 53-34 lead into halftime, and it was smooth sailing from there.
North Dakota extended their winning streak to three games, completing a perfect homestand to start the year with a 101-63 win over the Presentation College Saints.
Corey Baldwin connected on a three pointer just before the buzzer to send North Dakota into the break with an extra shot of momentum, and they picked up right where they left off in the second half.
The Fighting Hawks scored the first seven points of the half, including five straight from senior guard Quinton Hooker, to quickly stretch the lead to 26 points.
With the game out of reach, the attention turned to Drick Bernstine, and his quest for the second triple-double in school history.
Then, with 9:02 remaining on the clock, it happened.
Baldwin connected on another three point jumper, this time to give North Dakota the 84-49 lead, and the assist went to none other than Bernstine.
North Dakota waited years before Hooker recorded the school’s first-ever triple-double last season, and they have their second within the past calendar year.
Seven players scored in double-figures on Sunday for the Fighting Hawks, including all five starters, as North Dakota rolled to the 101-63 win over Presentation College.
Geno Crandall scored a game-high 17 points to lead the way for the Fighting Hawks, along with Drick Bernstine’s triple-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Quinton Hooker added 10 points of his own, while Conner Avants and Corey Baldwin had 15 points apiece in the win.
As a team, the Fighting Hawks shot 39-of-69 (56.5%) from the floor.
Elijah Valdez led the way for the Saints, scoring a team-high 14 points. Donnell Minton added 9 points and 6 rebounds in the loss.
Presentation College played the game as an exhibition, and the result will not count towards their record in the NAIA.
The win caps off a successful three-game home stand to open up the 2016-17 season for the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (3-0, 0-0). Up next for the Fighting Hawks is a trip to Dayton, OH, where they will take on the North Florida Ospreys as a part of the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic on Friday afternoon.
– T. Bennett