Big Sky Semifinals: North Dakota moves past flat Portland State, 79-63

Mackenzie Jasper - Big Sky Conference

North Dakota used a strong first half to coast to the finals of the 2014 Big Sky Tournament.

OGDEN -- Jaron Nash controlled the paint in the first half to help North Dakota build a big cushion en route to a 79-63 win over Portland State in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament on Friday night.

The 6-foot-8 Nash dunked, posted up, and even hit a three for an 11-point first half to lead North Dakota to a 39-25 halftime lead. Nash and fellow post player Alonzo Traylor also dominated the glass throughout the game, especially early -- at one point, UND held a 15-3 rebounding advantage.

Gary Winston and Kyle Richardson led Portland State in keeping it close, even helping the Vikings cut the deficit to nine points with nine minutes remaining. But UND's dominance on the glass -- it had six players with at least four rebounds -- kept Portland State from making any serious runs.

Portland State's poor shooting performance made it impossible to come back as well, as the Vikings shot 16-of-41 (39%) from the field. The Vikings finish the season 17-14.

Senior guard Troy Huff had a flat game from the field shooting 3-of-14, but shot 12-of-15 from the line to finish with 18 points.

North Dakota, now 17-15, will play the winner of Weber State and Northern Colorado on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT in the Big Sky Championship Game, which will air on ESPNU.

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