The Pioneers (2-13, 1-7) took to the court Saturday afternoon in Hamilton Gym to face the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (6-15, 5-7) trying to break DU’s conference losing streak. They last defeated Western Illinois on February 29th, 2020 which represented their last D1 and conference win. It is always sweet to get a win, especially against North Dakota, but this win was as much a relief as it was a victory celebration.
As is their custom, DU fell behind, 12-4, five minutes into the game. Over the next five minutes, DU closed the gap to 19-15 on a Drake Muller layup and free throws by Tristan Green. A Caleb Nero 3-point shot gave UND a 12 point lead, 32-20, with less than five minutes to go in the half. UND built a 14 point lead, largely on free throws but DU finished with a six-point run, capped by an Eric Moenkhaus 3-point play. The first 20 minutes ended with the visitors holding the lead, 45-37. North Dakota shot 60% from the field and drained seven three-pointers in the half to earn the advantage.
North Dakota pulled out to a 10-point lead five minutes into the second half. Several minutes later, Denver knifed the Fighting Hawks 14 point lead to four points with an 8-point run triggered by a Sam Hines, Jr. dunk and jumpers by Roscoe Eastmond and Jase Townsend. A pair of Javonni Bickham free throws at the midway mark pulled Denver within six, 53-47. Denver tied the score 53-53 on an Eric Moenkhaus 3-point shot and DU took the lead on a Javonni Bickham layup with 7:28 to go. A layup by DU drew the teams even again, 62-62 with 3:51 to go as the two teams traded baskets. Jase Townsend tied the score on a jumper, 69-69 with 45 seconds to go and the game went to overtime.
In overtime, the teams traded points for the first four-and-a-half minutes until Jase Townsend drained a 3-point shot to take a lead which Denver would never relinquish, 83-79. Eric Moenkhaus made two critical free throws down the stretch and the game ended, 85-81 in Denver’s favor.
— Denver Men's Hoops (@DU_MHoops) February 6, 2021
North Dakota had five players in double figures. Jase Townsend led DU with 23 points and 4 rebounds. Freshman Eric Moenkhaus chipped in with 17 points and Sam Hines, Jr. with 13 points and 6 rebounds. DU shot a solid 49.1% from the field and both teams had 16 giveaways. Denver still has winnable games left with series against Western Illinois and Kansas City on the road and a finale against Omaha in Hamilton Gym.
Photo: Courtesy Denver Pioneers – Jase Townsend.