The rivalry between the North Dakota Fighting Hawks and the North Dakota State Bison dates all the way back to 1905. Entering Wednesday night’s action, North Dakota had a record of 159-130 in the series.
Wednesday also marked the first of two meetings between the teams over the next ten days, and took place in Fargo, ND.
The last time the Fighting Hawks won in Fargo was back in 2003.
Both teams entered Wednesday’s tilt having won their previous outings, and were looking to create some momentum in the rivalry ahead of next week’s rematch.
North Dakota was looking to make a statement, and make a statement they did. It was a big night for the Fighting Hawks, who cruised in the second half and extended their lead to as many as 20 points down the stretch.
When the dust settled, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks made a massive statement with their 74-56 win over their archrivals on the road.
Sophomore guard Geno Crandall led the way for the Fighting Hawks, scoring a career-high 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the floor. He was 3-of-5 from three point range, and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
Dexter Werner scored a game-high 30 points for the Bison in the loss.
The Fighting Hawks took a 10-point lead into the break for the second straight year in the rivalry game. Last year, the Bison came back for the 69-67 win inside the Betty Englestad Sioux Center.
“I think we learned a lot from last year’s matchup and that shows a lot of growth from our team,” said UND head coach Brian Jones in a post-game interview. “We were up 10 at the half again and this time we stayed the course for 40 minutes and won this game on the defensive end.”
Guard Corey Baldwin was a key piece in the Fighting Hawks staying the course in the second half, as he scored all 13 of his points over the final 20 minutes of the game.
The Bison cut into the lead over the first six minutes of the second half. Thanks to some strong play from Werner, the Bison trimmed the lead to 39-34 with plenty of time left on the clock.
That was as close as North Dakota State would get the rest of the way.
A pair of free throws from Carson Shanks gave the Fighting Hawks a 70-50 lead with 1:09 left in the game, their biggest lead of the game.
North Dakota put in the reserves in the closing minute, as they cruised to the 74-56 win over North Dakota State.
It was a uncharacteristically quiet night for Quinton Hooker. The reigning College Court Report Player of the Year recorded just 4 points, while going 1-of-10 from the field. Drick Bernstine added 12 points and 6 rebounds in the win.
As for the Bison, Werner added 13 rebounds for his second-straight double-double. He also finished the game shooting 12-of-13 from the field. Star guard Paul Miller was held off the score sheet, going 0-of-8 from the field in 21 minutes of action.
With the win, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (5-2, 0-0) improve to 160-130 all-time against their instate rivals. North Dakota will take on the Northern Iowa Panthers this Saturday, before squaring off with the Bison in a rematch on December 17th in Grand Forks.
The loss was the third in the last four games for the North Dakota State Bison (6-4, 0-0). They will look to get back to their winning ways next Wednesday, when they take on the UC Davis Aggies at home.
– T. Bennett