North Dakora captures BigSky title, earns first NCAA Tournament bid - Mar 12, 2017
North Dakota's motto this season was 'finish the race.' The Fighting Hawks did that, but the race lasted a little longer than they might have liked. Regular-season champion North Dakota needed a 5-minute overtime to subdue Weber State 93-89 in the capper to an exciting Big Sky Conference men's tournament Saturday in front of 2,025 fans at the Reno Events Center. The Fighting Hawks (22-9) will find out Sunday who and where they'll play in the NCAA Tournament in their first trip to the Big Dance. Tournament MVP Quinton Hooker (6'0''-PG), a senior guard, showed the Hawks the way to the finish line with 28 points. Sophomore guard Geno Crandall (6'3''-G) added 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. 'I'm still in awe,' North Dakota coach Brian Jones said. 'Just a gutty, unbelievable performance by these guys. It's been a two-year journey. We went to Europe two summers ago and that's where this journey started. We put this team together for this very day. I'm just so proud of them I don't know what to say.' Weber State senior guard Jeremy Senglin (6'2''-G-95) caught fire in the second half, sparking a 13-0 run that put the Wildcats on top 61-52 with 12:35 to play. Senglin had five free throws, a 3-pointer and a drive to the rim for a deuce during the burst. Weber's lead reached 11 at 72-61 on a dunk by Zach Braxton (6'9''-F/C-95) with 7:25 remaining. Four Hawks scored in an 8-0 burst to get the Hawks back in the game at 73-69 with 5:09 left in regulation. 'We've had close games, we've been down in games,' said Crandall. 'The confidence and toughness we have - we were never really in doubt. When we were down 10, in the huddle we were like, 'All right, we're going to win this game, we just have to figure out how.' It was just a matter of everybody locking in.' The Wildcats were still on top 81-75 with 51 seconds left in regulation. But Crandall hit a pair of free throws, Hooker used the glass from close range and, after a Senglin miss, Crandall went coast-to-coast to score the tying bucket with 7.1 seconds to play. Cortez Seales (6'4''-G) blocked a last-second attempt by Weber's Jerrick Harding (6'0''-PG-98) to send the game to the extra session. UND was able to take the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Hooker with 2:31 left in overtime. There were 40 fouls whistled in the second half and overtime, resulting in 70 free throws for the game. Crandall scored on a pretty floater to put UND on top 89-86 and Weber was never able to draw even again. Defending Big Sky champion Weber State (19-13) will likely receive a bid to a postseason tournament, coach Randy Rahe said. Senglin led the Wildcats with 26 points and Kyndahl added 21 and 12 rebounds. Named to the all-tournament team were Randy Onwuasor (6'3''-G-95) of Southern Utah, Victor Sanders (6'5''-G-95) of Idaho, Jake Wiley (6'6''-F) of Eastern Washington, Harding and Senglin of Weber State, Corey Baldwin (6'4''-G) of North Dakota and MVP Hooker.
Courtesy of BigSkyConf
Big Sky Conf. Tournament Final: North Dakota - Weber State 93-89 Big Sky Conf. Tournament Semifinals: Weber State - Eastern Washington 80-72 North Dakota - Idaho 69-64
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