North Dakota’s 88-65 victory over the Idaho men’s basketball team ended the Vandals’ four-game winning streak.
The Hawks now firmly control the second spot in the Big Sky, while the Vandals sit in fourth.
North Dakota shot 51 percent from the field and 50 percent from the perimeter, while making just over 85 percent of its free-throws.
The Vandals shot 38.7 percent from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc, hitting only four of 19 3-point attempts.
“(North Dakota) were a step quicker than we were tonight in every aspect of the game,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said. “The bottom line is we got our tails kicked tonight.”
North Dakota guard Geno Crandall had a game-high 22 points, shooting 6-10 from the field and recording three steals.
Guard and preseason Big Sky MVP for the Hawks, Quinton Booker netted 21 points.
North Dakota took over the game midway through the first half. Junior guard Victor Sanders collected two fouls in the first five minutes of the game, forcing him to hit the bench early on.
The Hawks came out in the first half strategizing around post play. Behind play of junior Carson Shanks, North Dakota went on a 7-0 run midway through the first half, resulting in a 27-14 lead with nine minutes remaining.
North Dakota led 49-33 at the half, as the Hawks shot about 18 percent better than Idaho from the field, outrebounding the Vandals by five and earning five more assists.
Two quick turnovers by Idaho began the first half, leading to four points for Crandall in transition. Although Idaho had nine turnovers compared to North Dakota’s 10, points off turnovers plagued the Vandals, as the Hawks scored 17.
The Hawks held a cushion of approximately 20 points for most of the second half.
“I feel for my guys, they’ve been working their tails off,” Verlin said. “We’ve had a good run, but it looked like a team tonight that’s exhausted. But we didn’t practice yesterday, we had some travel issues and that kind of thing, I didn’t think we had the team prepared quite as well as we needed to for this good of a basketball team.”
Eleven players scored for Idaho, but only Sanders and freshman guard Trevon Allen, reached double figures. Allen was the first to reach the mark over halfway through the second half, hitting a jumper to tie a team-high and a career-high 11 points in the game.
For North Dakota, Shanks recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, joining Crandall and Hooker in double figure scoring.
The Hawks outrebounded Idaho 30-21, recorded three more steals and had five blocked shots, all by Shanks, compared to none for the Vandals.
The Vandals will have a five-day rest before taking on Eastern Washington 6 p.m. Feb. 17 in Cheney.
Colton Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org