Ugly sweaters aside, UND upends Mayville State 83-66

The Fighting Hawks' Cortez Seales hits a jumper in the first half of Friday's basketball game against Mayville St. Nick Nelson / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS — It was Ugly Sweater Night at The Betty on Friday night, Dec. 14, a usual holiday tradition for many.

The sweaters worn by the UND coaching staff were, yes, ugly and loud. But the sight of UND’s performance on the court was mostly eye-pleasing.

UND received a push from Mayville State early but had enough of everything to down the high-scoring Comets 83-66 before 1,472 fans -- a win that improved the Hawks to 6-5. The NAIA Comets, who came into the game averaging 96 points, are 7-2 and are expected to make another push for a repeat North Star Athletic Association title.

Mayville never led but managed to hang around longer than perhaps expected due its experience and ability to shoot the 3-pointer. At one point, the Comets were 6-for-10 from beyond the arc and trailed 32-18 with seven minutes left in the first half.

“I want to give a lot of credit to (Mayville coach) Darren Tighe and his staff; they came in here and played with such confidence,” said UND coach Brian Jones. “They hit seven 3s in the first half and finished the half strong.

“Even in the second half, when we felt we were close to turning the corner, they kept chipping away and making shots on us. So our guys had to respond. And I was proud of how they responded.”

Cortez Seales led UND with 22 points. Filip Rebraca and Billy Brown added 15 and 14, respectively while Aanen Moody hit 11 off the bench.

Brown, a 6-foot-3 junior, turned in another solid game, running the offense from the point and knocking down shots. He was 5-for-10 from the field and 3-for-4 from beyond the stripe.

“Billy had a great game for us,” said Jones. “He made big shots but he did a lot of good things defensively, too.”

Brown came into the game averaging 6.9 points, shooting 52 percent overall and 42 percent on 3-point attempts.

“I’m just more confident now,” said Brown.

And that confidence was needed, especially as UND played a so-called trap game against an opponent it was supposed to beat.

“They’re an older team and a smart team,” said Brown of the Comets. “Yeah, it was a trap game but we handled it pretty well down the stretch.”

UND led by 11 at the half but the Comets managed to trim that lead to six points twice, the second at 57-51 on a Max Cooper basket with 13:13 left.

But UND responded with an Conner Avants basket and a Seales basket as the Hawks went up by 10. Avants, who scored six points, also went over the 1,000-point mark for his career.

Mayville, a team that attempts roughly 35 three-pointer per game, was led by Gorg Alhag’s 19 points. Eric Staebler added 12.

UND did not have the services of junior guard Marlon Stewart, who sat out the first semester to concentrate on academics. He has been cleared to play, however, for UND’s games next week at No. 22 Marquette and at Northern Iowa.