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Big Sky Tournament: North Dakota's balanced effort staves off Sacramento State, 79-76

Troy Huff led North Dakota to hold off Sacramento State in the first round of the 2014 Big Sky Tournament.

All-Conference performer Troy Huff scores for North Dakota
All-Conference performer Troy Huff scores for North Dakota
courtesy Brandon Garside-Weber Signpost

OGDEN -- Troy Huff scored 18 points to lead a balanced North Dakota team to a first-round win over the Sacramento State Hornets, 79-76, in the Big Sky tournament on Thursday afternoon.

With just over a minute left and down by one, the Hornets got the ball on a steal by Cody Demps, proceeded to get four shot attempts up in its possession, but failed to score. UND then went 4-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to narrowly escape the upset big from the seventh-seeded Hornets.

After failing to get Dylan Garrity open for a three-pointer -- Garrity was 4-for-4 from deep -- Mikh McKinney missed a contested three with six seconds left to close the door on Sacramento State's chances.

Both teams were hot nearly all game, but Sacramento State cooled down late to take the pressure off UND, who finished with a 52% performance from the field. The Hornets shot 46.3%.

Aaron Anderson added 16 points in the win for the green and white, with Alonzo Traylor and Josh Schuler contributing 11 points a piece.

Of note, Josh Schuler suffered what appeared to be a major injury with one second left in the game. After McKinney's missed three-pointer with six seconds left and the Hornets putting in a layup, UND inbounded the ball to an open Schuler. As Schuler sprinted toward the open floor ahead of him, McKinney dove trying to commit a foul and stop the clock, but ended up tackling Schuler.

Schuler's right knee was receiving attention on the bench. He knocked down a couple three-pointers and dished four assists in the win; UND would lose a key contributor if he is unable to continue in the tournament.

Sacramento State led by three points at halftime, powered by a balanced attack. Garrity had 13 points, with McKinney and Demps posting 11 points in the first frame. The Hornets finish the 2013-14 season with a record of 14-16.

North Dakota improves to 16-15 on the season and advances to the semifinals with its opponent yet to be determined, other than it will not be Weber State.