Slow start haunts UND in 77-53 loss vs. Kansas City

The University of North Dakota men’s basketball team dropped a 77-53 decision to Kansas City on Sunday afternoon from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center in Grand Forks.

UND (2-9, 1-1 Summit League) couldn’t get its offense in rhythm for much of the game and allowed Kansas City (5-6, 1-1 Summit League) to jump out to an early lead and not look back.

Filip Rebraca led the way for the second straight game with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, matching a game-best eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Playing his first back-to-back games of the season, De’Sean Allen-Eikens came off the bench and provided a spark for the Hawks with 13 points, knocking down seven of his nine attempts from the line, while also grabbing a pair of boards.

It was not a pretty start for either offense through the opening seven minutes of the game, with Kansas City holding UND to just a single basket on seven shot attempts. The Roos mustered a little more success when they had the ball, jumping out to an 8-2 advantage on a 3-for-8 start from the field.

Shots continued not to find the twine for the Hawks as the half wore on, with the hosts earning trips to the line, but only knocking down two of their first nine attempts to see the Roos build an 18-6 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the period.

The lead grew to as large as 14 for Kansas City at 20-6, but UND closed the gap to just eight, 28-20, at the halftime break by hitting four of its final five shots.

Triples and free throws were the bugaboos for the Fighting Hawks through the opening 20 minutes, connecting on only 6-of-16 from the charity stripe and failing to knock down a three on seven attempts. UND held Kansas City to zero triples as well on four tries, but the Roos hit 13-of-22 from the field from inside the arc.

After a Rebraca basket to trim the deficit to just six to open the second half, Kansas City answered back by hitting its first five shots from the field to take a 14-point lead, 39-25, less than four minutes into the frame. The Roos kept sinking everything they took on the offensive end, extending the lead to over 20 with just over 12 minutes to play in the contest with a perfect 10-for-10 start from the field.

North Dakota kept battling throughout the second half, trimming the deficit down to 15 following a three-point play by Ethan Igbanugo with just over eight minutes to play, but the 15-point deficit was as close as the Hawks would get with the Roos closing out the 77-53 victory.

UND will hit the road for the first time in league play for a pair of games against Oral Roberts on Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.