RECAP: Crandall, Hooker lead North Dakota to come-from-behind win over Weber State

Geno Crandall scored a career-high 31 points, and North Dakota overcame a nine-point deficit early in the second half to knock off Weber State, 83-77. (Source: Russell Hons - North Dakota Men's Basketball)
Geno Crandall scored a career-high 31 points, and North Dakota overcame a nine-point deficit early in the second half to knock off Weber State, 83-77. (Source: Russell Hons – North Dakota Men’s Basketball)

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Before the 2016-17 season kicked off, the trendy picks in the Big Sky Conference were the Weber State Wildcats and the North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

As the season has moved along, nothing has changed. Many are still picking between the Wildcats and Fighting Hawks to be representing the conference in the NCAA Tournament. On Thursday night, the two teams squared off inside ‘The Betty’, with both looking to gain an edge in the race for the Big Sky title.

Weber State held a five-point lead at halftime, and they stretched their lead to nine early in the second, but they weren’t able to hold off the host Fighting Hawks down the stretch.

Sophomore guard Geno Crandall set a new career-high with 31 points on the night, Quinton Hooker added 22 points of his own, and North Dakota outscored Weber State by 11 in the second half, en route to the 83-77 win.

Weber State took a 40-35 lead into the locker room, and came out in the second half looking to put more separation between themselves and the Fighting Hawks.

Zach Braxton and Jeremy Senglin scored on back-to-back possessions to open the half for the Wildcats, giving the visitors a 44-35 lead with over 19 minutes still to play in the contest. Instead of letting the game get away from them, North Dakota fought their way back, and would eventually take a lead of their own.

With 13:22 to play, Drick Bernstine got a layup to fall, kicking off a 10-0 run that gave the Fighting Hawks a slim 56-55 lead. Weber State answered right back, as Kyndahl Hill hit a layup of his own to push the Wildcats back ahead by one.

Back and forth they’d go over the next several minutes. With under three to play, Dusty Baker hit a pair of free throws for Weber State to give them a 70-69 lead.

Again, North Dakota would go on a run to take back the lead, and this time it was for good. Crandall scored two baskets, and Hooker scored a third in a 6-0 run that gave the Fighting Hawks a 75-70 lead with :55 left in the game.

In the closing minute, North Dakota went a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line to seal the deal. It wasn’t easy, but the Fighting Hawks came away with the 83-77 win over Weber State on Thursday night.


Once again, Geno Crandall set a new career-high for points this season. The sophomore guard scored a game-high 31 points, on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor, and 10-of-12 shooting from the free throw line.

Quinton Hooker chipped in with 22 points and 6 rebounds, while Drick Bernstine added 8 points and 9 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup.

For the Wildcats, Jeremy Senglin scored a team-high 24 points to go along with 3 assists. He also hit six jumpers from three point range, putting him within striking distance of the Big Sky record for three pointers made in a career.

Senglin sits at 282 career three pointers, and needs 27 more to become the all-time leader in the Big Sky.


The loss brought an end to the seven-game winning streak for the Weber State Wildcats (9-7, 4-1), and it was also their first loss in conference play. They return to the court on Saturday to close out their road trip against the Northern Colorado Bears.

With the win, the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (10-7, 5-2) have won five of their last six games. They will look to make it back-to-back wins on Saturday, when they welcome the Idaho State Bengals to town to close out a mini two-game homestand.

– T. Bennett