CEDAR CITY, Utah – The Thunderbirds lost a buzzer-beater heartbreaker in the Centrum Arena on Thursday night as the Fighting Hawks pulled out a tight 91-89 victory.
The T-Birds were led by Randy Onwuasor, who finished the night with 26 points, 19 of which came in the final eight minutes of the first half.
James McGee finished with 20 points as Christian Musoko concluded the night with a double-double at 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Thunderbirds outrebounded the Fighting Hawks in the loss, 37-27.
Treys from Jacob Calloway, Ivan Madunic, and McGee gave the Thunderbirds an early 13-7 lead to start the game before 11-straight Fighting Hawks points placed UND ahead at 18-13.
Onwuasor stopped the streak with a layup before Matt Johnson drained a three-pointer to knot the game at 18-18.
Onwuasor was held scoreless in the first 12 minutes of the game before exploding for 19 points in the final eight minutes of the first half, which included four-straight Onwuasor three-pointers, to lift the Thunderbirds to a 41-32 halftime lead.
“Randy is such an efficient player, and if you gave him space, he’s going to make shots,” Simon said.
The Thunderbirds held to the lead throughout the opening minutes of the second half before the Fighting Hawks battled from behind to tie up the game at 53-53.
North Dakota pulled ahead for a 66-58 lead midway through the second half. The Thunderbirds caught up to UND before a McGee three put the Thunderbirds back ahead at 71-70 with 6:05 to play.
UND led 85-80 with 2:59 remaining before a McGee free throw, two Marshall free throws, and a clutch McGee three put the Thunderbirds ahead at 86-85. North Dakota dropped a jumper before Musoko drained a freebie to knot the game at 87-87.
North Dakota’s Quinton Hooker poured in two free throws before Musoko returned the favor with a pair of freebies to tie the game at 89-89.
Hooker nailed a jumper with Onwuasor’s hand in his face at the buzzer to pull out a UND victory, 91-89.
The Thunderbirds return to the Centrum Arena on Saturday evening as they take on the Northern Colorado Bears at 4:00 p.m.
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