It was a critical win for DU men’s hoops Saturday afternoon as they battled North Dakota and a slew of three-point makes (15/39) at Hamilton Gym Saturday afternoon.
Denver built an early 10-2 lead, fueled by a 8-0 run, triggered by Tyree Corbett to start the game. At the midway point, DU’s Lukas Kisunas pushed Denver’s lead to 25-14. Three-point makes by UND cut the lead to six points with three-and-a-half minutes remaining until break, 33-27. UND trays narrowed the lead- 37-34, DU at half. Nine offensive rebounds by the Fighting Hawks kept the score close along with eight made threes to only one for DU – yet Denver responded to each UND push.
The two teams traded points over the first ten minutes of the second half. With eight minutes remaining, Denver held to a slight lead, 63-60, but the Pioneers could not put the Fighting Hawks away with their 13 made three’s to stay in contact. UND’s Matt Norman pulled the Hawks within one, 66-65, with a hook shot and a missed free throw. DU countered with a small four point run and with 3:52 remaining, DU owned the ball and a five point lead. After DU ran clock, a pair of Tyree Corbett charities put DU up by seven, 72-65 with two minutes remaining.
Denver held strong down the stretch as Touko Tainamo went to the line to regain a seven point lead with less than 40 seconds left. UND countered with a bucket but Marko Lukic responded at the free throw line to put the finishing touches on the final score,78-71, DU.
As a team, DU out-rebounded UND 40-33 in a show of toughness. Tevin Smith continues to make progress from injury with 20 points and 5 rebounds. The star for the Pioneers was Tyree Corbett with 10 points and 15 rebounds, cementing the win. Matt Norman paced UND with 18 points.
During the four game skid, Jeff Wulbrun stated that the team “did a lot of self analysis and we needed greater effort- especially on the defensive end. We needed to compete.” Wulbrun also got to see some smiles when he entered the locker room. Hard to call any single conference game a ‘must win’ but Saturday’s victory should go a long way in restoring confidence to the Pioneers.