When North Dakota (4-12, 0-3) traveled to Denver (6-11, 2-2) Saturday afternoon, the Pioneers faced a team they were expected to defeat on paper. But could they prove it on the court? Denver raced out to a strong first half behind freshman Coban Porter and coasted to a convincing 93-74 win at Hamilton Gym. We are witnessing a Denver team that just might be turning the corner. Now, can they keep the momentum going?
Largest win in nearly 3 years. This team keeps growing. Been fun to watch. Come check it out. https://t.co/d7PHHMie7o
— Chris Smith (@cm_swish) January 9, 2022
Denver dominated the first half behind 54% shooting and went to the break leading, 54-37. Five minutes into the game, a Coban Porter 3-point play put DU in front, 11-9. A pair of Javonni Bickham free throws put Denver up 21-16 with 10 minutes left in the half. Denver went on a run against the Fighting Hawks over the next four minutes to stretch the lead to 14, capped by a 3-point make by DU’s Jordan Johnson. Coban Porter, Tealyr Gatlin and Johnson shared the scoring down the stretch to take a 17 point margin to the lockerroom.
The second half was more of the same as DU’s bench outscored the North Dakota bench (41-19 for the game) and made timely 3-point buckets (10/20 for 50%). Denver kept up the pressure in the second half. A Mikey Henn 3-point make at 10:23 gave DU their largest lead at 26 points, 75-49. Denver traded points with the Hawks the rest of the way as Denver ended the game with five double-digit scorers – KJ Hunt (20), Caban Porter (20), Jordan Johnson (15), Touko Tainamo (11 points, 6 rebs,) and Mikey Henn(10).
This was DU’s most dominating win in years and featured more balance than Pioneer fans have seen since the Joe Scott years. Sure, North Dakota is a bad team but Denver needs to learn how to win after being the Summit League doormat for so long. They play a well-coached North Dakota State team (10-5, 2-1) on Monday at 7 pm and will be tested by a much more talented side.
Photo: University of Denver Athletics – Coban Porter