RENO, Nev. (AP) Quinton Hooker scored 26 of his 30 points in the second half to help No. 5 seed North Dakota hold off 12th-seeded Southern Utah 85-80 on Tuesday in the first round of the Big Sky tournament.
The Fighting Hawks (16-14) play fourth-seeded Idaho State in a quarterfinal on Thursday.
The Thunderbirds, who came in with one win in their final 13 games, got within a point three times in the final minute but North Dakota made all eight free throws, including four by Hooker, to prevail.
A bucket by Drick Bernstine gave North Dakota a 55-54 lead with 12:18 remaining and Hooker scored the Fighting Hawks' next 12 points for a seven-point advantage.
Hooker was 8 of 13 from the floor and made 12 of 13 free throws. Bernstine added 15 points.
North Dakota made 25 of 34 free throws to 17 of 22 for Southern Utah.
John Marshall led Southern Utah (5-24) with 19 points with Casey Oliverson and Travon Langston adding 15 each.