GRAND FORKS -- The University of North Dakota left an impression on Gonzaga last December when the Fighting Hawks nearly pulled off their biggest upset of the Division I era. UND had national power Gonzaga on the ropes, but the Zags eventually rallied to beat the Hawks 89-83 in overtime.
The game went to overtime because of Geno Crandall’s step-back, 3-point basket with 1.9 seconds to play, a basket that stunned the 6,000 Gonzaga fans at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
More importantly, that shot by Crandall -- and his overall play -- left a bigger impression on the Zags.
On Thursday, Crandall -- a UND grad transfer -- announced he will complete his final year of eligibility next season at perennial national power Gonzaga, which is expected to be a preseason Top 10 pick.
Crandall had narrowed his transfer choices to Gonzaga, Minnesota and Xavier.
“GU seemed like the natural fit for me that had everything I was looking for in my last year of college basketball: a winning program, great coaches with a proven track record for player development, a good group of guys and an excellent culture,” said Crandall. “I’m expecting a special year in Spokane and can’t wait to get started.”
The Zags’ style of play -- uptempo and free-wheeling -- is a good fit for Crandall, who leaves UND as the program’s 14th career leading scorer.
Crandall is expected to play significant minutes for the Zags, if not landing in the starting lineup. Gonzaga needs backcourt depth for next season as starting point guard Josh Perkins is recovering from shoulder surgery. And the Zags use a three-guard lineup.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said Crandall will be a good fit for the Zags, who were the national runner-up two seasons ago.
“We were able to see what he is capable of doing in our game versus North Dakota,” said Few. “He will be a great addition.”
According to Gonzaga, Crandall has signed a financial aid agreement. He’s expected to complete his UND degree later this summer.
At UND, Crandall was a member of the the 2016-17 team that won the Big Sky Conference and reached the NCAA Tournament.
Last season, Crandall averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He scored 41 points against Troy in the season opener and led the Big Sky with 67 steals. He hit a career-high 41.7 percent of his 3-pointers.
Crandall ranks fourth in UND history in steals and seventh in assists.
At least one area team will play against Crandall next season. North Dakota State recently announced it will play at Gonzaga in November.