Sioux Falls awaits for the Bison
The Bison men’s basketball team bested the Jackrabbits Thursday night 71-69. The win set the Bison up to secure the Summit League title with their win over Omaha on Saturday. In an overtime slugfest that was every bit as ugly as it was fun, the Herd was able to take down the Bunnies for the first time in their last seven tries.
The game was a shock-clock draining, flow-less mess from the opening tip until the final whistle. It was also a gorgeous display of defense, toughness and team basketball.
After a slow start offensively, the Bison went on a 16-2 run midway through the first half to get the energy going at SHAC. The run got started after the Jared Samuelson three followed by a steal and a fast-break dunk by senior Tyson Ward.
A late three from the Rabbits third-leading scorer Noah Freidel put that score at 31-30 Bison heading into the second half.
The start of the second half was less than optimal for the Herd. The Bison went on the five-minute scoring drought that allowed SDSU to take the lead and had just one field goal for nearly the first seven minutes of the second period.
NDSU’s offense malfunctions allowed the Rabbits to keep a steady advantage. The Herd was finally able to take the lead back, with a layup by their point-guard and go-to man Vinnie Shahid.
A couple of clutch free throws from Tyson Ward gave the Bison a two-point advantage with just 33 seconds to go. A defense breakdown on the ensuing possession gave way for a wide-open dunk from David Wingett, and after a jumper from Shahid rattled out at the buzzer the game went to OT.
Overtime went much like regulation. Neither teamed seemed to want to take control with Ward coming up big again in the waning seconds. A clutch bucket in the paint from Ward put the Bison up one with 20 seconds left.
Rocky Kreuser came up with the lone Bison block of the night at the biggest moment, stuffing Matt Dentlinger at the rim. Kreuser even got the rebound. Kreuser was fouled immediately but made just one of two from the line. Brandon Key rushed the ball up for the Rabbits, but was fouled and would take two shots with a chance to tie the game.
Key’s first attempt doinked off the rim, forcing him to miss the second on purpose and hope for a rebound and quick basket, but his second attempt got nothing but air, turning the ball over and sealing the win for the Herd.
Shahid struggled scoring most of the night shooting just 2-11 from three and scoring 12 points but played all but four minutes for the Herd, and with the SDSU defense focused on stopping him it allowed his teammates to find some room to score.
Ward was the lone bright spot for the Bison on offense, putting up 24 points on 75-percent shooting to go along with his clutch play.