Allen-Eikens scored 22 points, Rebraca added 20 as Sather wins his Fighting Hawks coaching debut in the 86-61 victory.

GRAND FORKS — It wasn’t the prettiest blowout a team can have but Paul Sather opened his era as North Dakota head basketball coach with the 86-61 victory over Division III Crown College Thursday, Nov. 7.

Despite the win, the Fighting Hawks finished the night with 19 turnovers.

“We got a little careless offensively with the ball with guys trying to make plays,” Sather said. “And I think it’s something with this group that they’re pretty aggressive minded that way and we have some guys out there that can make plays but sometimes we force them instead of letting the play develop.

“And it’s something that has been a trait at practice.”

Carelessness with the ball aside, the Fighting Hawks (1-0) was able to shoot the Storm out of the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, going 33 for 66 from the field, including 10 three-pointers. De’Sean Allen-Eikens, playing his first game back from a medical redshirt year after suffering a right broken leg last season, finished with a game-high 22 points off of 8-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds. Allen-Eikens also had six assists.

“I was just really happy, it was a dream come true,” Allen-Eikens said. “It’s surreal.”

Allen-Eikens scored 14 of his points in the first 20 minutes.

Filip Rebraca scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds and Marlon Stewart scored 12 points as 10 players for the Hawks contributed to the scoring.

Timothy Wendel and Gunnar Ledin were the only Crown players to finish the night scoring in double figures, each with 14 points apiece as the Storm was never in the game after Wendel’s two free throws 35 seconds into the game tied the game at 2. The Hawks built a 26 point first half lead but a late surge from Crown cut the deficit to 17 as the teams went into the locker room.

But a Allen-Eikens 3 a little over two minutes into the second half put the Fighting Hawks ahead by 21 and they cruised from there, holding Crown to 34.3 percent shooting from the floor and out rebounding them 54 to 25.

Next up for the Fighting Hawks is a trip to Spokane to take on No. 8 Gonzaga Tuesday, Nov. 12.

“If we turn the ball over 19 times against Gonzaga, times that by two. … They’re just such a great transition team but moving forward right now is more about us than our opponent but we also got to recognize who our opponent is and understand that taking care of the basketball is going to be the important thing to do,” Sather said.

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com.