North Dakota shot lights-out in the second half to pull away from the six-seed Southern Utah Thunderbirds, claiming the first-round victory 69-52 on Thursday night in Montana.
Up 28-25 at halftime, third-seeded UND blistered the nets in the second frame. UND shot 15-23 (65%) in the second half, including 7-11 from behind the arc. Southern Utah finished at 29% from the field. The two teams combined to shoot 33% in the first half, then diverged greatly as North Dakota pulled away.
Troy Huff led North Dakota with 15 points, while Aaron Anderson pitched in 14 in the win. Senior center Mitch Wilmer added 11 points and 14 rebound in only 25 minutes of action to help UND improve to 16-15 on the season.
Jackson Stevenett led Southern Utah in his final college game with 15 points, and the T-Birds finish with a record of 11-20.
Because the Big Sky re-seeds after the first round, third-seeded North Dakota will face second-seed Weber State in the semifinals, a game that tips at 5:30 p.m. MT on Friday. UND lost to Weber State twice in the regular season, by 15 points at home and by 32 points on the road.