North Dakota earns trip to championship game with win over Purdue Fort Wayne

North Dakota's Marlon Stewart scored 15 points including a trio of threes in the semifinals against Purdue Fort Wayne.
North Dakota's Marlon Stewart scored 15 points including a trio of threes in the semifinals against Purdue Fort Wayne.

Press Conferences: UND Head Coach Paul Sather | UND Players | Purdue Fort Wayne Head Coach Jon Coffman | Purdue Fort Wayne Players

The Basics
Score: No. 6 North Dakota 73, No. 7 Purdue Fort Wayne 56
Records: North Dakota (15-17), Purdue Fort Wayne (14-19)
Location: Denny Sanford PREMIER Center - Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – One day after knocking off No. 3 seed South Dakota in the quarterfinals, No. 6 seed North Dakota pushed through to the semifinals with a 73-56 win over No. 7 seed Purdue Fort Wayne in the Mastodons' final game as a league member. The Fighting Hawks advanced to the tournament title game in just their second year as a league member. The Fighting Hawks will square off against in-state rival and top-seeded North Dakota State at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

The Mastodons connected on their first three-pointer of the game to grab an early 3-0 lead, but that would be their only advantage of the contest as Kienan Walter scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the opening four minutes. The 6-foot-8 forward buried his first three long-range shots to aid UND's 11-for-24 effort from beyond the arc while Purdue Fort Wayne struggled after Holba's initial make. They made only five more, but hoisted 30 in the loss. 

After Purdue Fort Wayne made it a 13-11 contest, UND rattled off a 13-0 run that freshman Gertautas Urbonavicius capped with another Fighting Hawks' three-pointer from the top of the key to make it a 26-11 tilt.

The Mastodons trimmed eight points off the deficit before halftime, but never seriously threatened after the break.

North Dakota opened the second stanza on a 10-2 run to push its lead back to 15. UND's advantage would grow to as many as 18 in the second half as the Fighting Hawks went 11-for-22 from the field in both halves to shoot 50 percent for the contest.

Walter led four Fighting Hawks in double figures with his third 20-point game of the season while Marlon Stewart finished with 15 points, Filip Rebraca added 14 points and 10 rebounds and De'Sean Allen-Eikens added 10 points in the win.

Holba led a trio of Mastodons in double figures with 17 points. Jarred Godfrey pitched in with 13 and Dylan Carl added 10 points.

Turning Point
The Fighting Hawks' 10-2 run to start the second half ended any thoughts of a Purdue Fort Wayne comeback. The Mastodons never got closer than six points for the rest of the game and UND quickly got the lead back to double figures where it stayed for the remainder of the contest.

Inside the Box Score

  • North Dakota built its first-half lead on the strength of 50 percent shooting from the floor while holding Purdue Fort Wayne to 28.6 percent shooting.
  • The Hawks kept were an identical 11-for-22 from the floor in the second half and finished the game shooting 22-for-44. The Mastodons finished the game shooting 20-for-65 (30.8 percent).
  • UND went 11-for-24 from 3-point range, while the Mastodons finished 6-for-31 from long range.
  • Rebraca's 14-point, 10-rebound double-double was his league-leading 13th of the season.

News & Notes

  • Purdue Fort Wayne ends its time in The Summit League with an 8-13 all-time record in the tournament and a 1-6 mark in the semifinals.
  • UND improves to 2-1 all-time in the tournament with a 1-0 record in the semifinals.
  • The only other game between a No. 6 seed and a No. 7 seed in the tournament semifinals came in 2005 when No. 7 seed Oakland defeated No. 6 seed Chicago State. The Golden Grizzlies not only went on to win the tournament championship but also won an opening-round game in the NCAA Tournament.
  • The Fighting Hawks become the second No. 6 seed in tournament history to make the finals, joining IUPUI in 2002 (L, 88-55 vs. Valparaiso).
  • Tuesday's title game will be the first No. 1 vs. No. 6 matchup in the championship game since No. 1 Valparaiso faced No. 6 IUPUI in 2002.
  • The last time UND and North Dakota State played in a conference tournament was in the 1993 North Central Conference championship game played in Sioux Falls -- a 72-59 win by UND. 

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