On Senior Day, UND's Brady Danielson leads the Hawks past St. Thomas
UND senior deals with a family illness to help his team end regular season on a high note
GRAND FORKS – For UND senior Brady Danielson, the emotions were hard to contain Saturday.
It was his final home game at The Betty, where he has been a versatile player serving in many roles during his four years at UND.
He quietly went about his business throughout his career, a player who his coach called a Swiss Army knife because of his versatility.
When UND walked off the court with an 82-74 Summit League men’s basketball win over St. Thomas on Senior Day, basketball finality began to set in for Danielson, who also has been dealing with off-the-court family issues as well.
“It was an emotional game because my dad is struggling with brain cancer,” said Danielson. “Having him here, having him make the trip here and seeing him in the stands means a lot to me and my three brothers. It was a special moment to have him in the stands.”
Danielson turned in another steady game, scoring eight points and playing solid defense – his staple throughout his career. No one drew more offensive fouls than Danielson the past four years – and he drew another one against the Tommies.
The win also was noteworthy in another sense. UND improved to 6-12 in the Summit and 12-18 overall. The Hawks doubled their overall win total from last season and head to next week’s Summit League tournament with a little mojo – finishing the regular season winning five of its final seven games.
UND will play next Friday night at 6 in Sioux Falls. The Hawks will be either the No. 8 seed or the No. 9 seed and will play in one of the two play-in round games the opening night of the tournament. If they win the 8-9 game, they’ll draw No. 1 seed Oral Roberts on Saturday,
“We wanted to win this game to get our confidence back up,” said Danielson. “So I think we have a lot of confidence rolling.”
UND’s recent uptick in play has been fueled in part by the perimeter shooting of 6-foot-9 center Tsotne Tsartsidze, who finished with a career-high 20 points.
He also was 3-for-5 on 3-pointers. His late-season ability to hit from three gives the Hawks another offensive dimension. The junior from Tbilisi, Georgia, spent the offseason making himself a better shooter.
“I’d say I put up 600 shots a day during the offseason,” said Tsartsidze. “I shot here or anywhere I could find.”
Tsartsidze hit three triples in the second half, his third giving UND a 71-62 lead with 4:10 left. The Hawks then milked the lead down the stretch, even though the game turned a bit testy in the final minutes.
UND led most of the way. B.J. Omot’s three-pointer with 1:22 left in the first half gave UND a 38-35 advantage and the Hawks led the rest of the game. Omot finished with 17 points while Treysen Eaglestaff ended with 13 as UND shot 52 percent and outrebounded the Tommies (9-9, 18-13) 40-34.
So, UND now hits the road with nothing to lose.
The Hawks spent much of the season in the Summit League basement, but their play the past three weekends has raised some eyebrows in the league. Their goal now is to be a tough out in Sioux Falls.
“I feel like we’re definitely playing our best basketball right now,” said UND coach Paul Sather. “But I still like to think that we have better basketball in front of us. There is no reason we shouldn’t have confidence, that we can go out there and play against anyone.
“We don’t have pressure to win. That’s on Oral Roberts and South Dakota State right now.
“So, let’s go out there and compete, have fun and bring our best and see what happens.”