Bison pick up key road win over Kansas City 69-58
Coming off two consecutive home wins last week, the Bison hit the road for a few days. Their first trip was to Kansas City, Mo. to face the Kansas City Roos. Earlier this season, Kansas City’s Shemarri Allen and RayQuawndis Mitchell torched the Herd in Fargo as they dropped 51 combined points in their 75-73 victory. This time around, the stifling Bison defense shut down the duo, as they combined to hit just 30% of their shots on the night.
North Dakota State and Kansas City would be tied at five after the first five minutes of play, but the Bison would roll out to an 11-1 run over the next four minutes. Kansas City wouldn’t hit their next field goal until Mitchell scored with 9:43 to go in the half, spanning over six minutes without a bucket.
The Bison, however, went through their own cold spell as well. After Grant Nelson scored with 5:27 to go, the Bison hit only one shot the rest of the half.
Despite the poor stretch, the Roos couldn’t capitalize and trailed 28-24 at the break. The Bison limited Kansas City to 26% shooting in the first half and held Shemarri Allen to just five points. The Roos have not been known for their offense as they rank last in the Summit League in points per game and field goal percentage.
Leading the Bison in the first half were Grant Nelson and Boden Skunberg as each recorded eight points in the half. The rest of the team, however, totaled just 12 points in the half, none of which came from Andrew Morgan who racked up 29 points against the Roos in their prior matchup.
The Herd would indeed flip the script in the second half. After maintaining a four-point advantage at 38-34 through the first seven minutes out of the break, Nelson and Tajavis Miller led the way during a 10-3 Bison run over the next three minutes, scoring five points apiece. Nelson finished the day with an impressive stat line of 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks while Miller finished with 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Kansas City would shortly pull themselves a bit closer at 48-43, but the Herd erupted on a 15-5 run to widen the gap to 63-48 courtesy of Nelson and Skunberg. The Roos would try to make another push but Damari Wheeler-Thomas put the game away with three perfect trips to the line. While not reaching the charity stripe at all in the first half, the Bison were terrific from 15 feet in the second half, connecting on 14-16 shots from the line.
For the game, the Bison held the Roos to just 30% shooting and 27% from deep while forcing 11 turnovers. The Bison shot 44% from the floor, 47% from long distance and 88% from the free throw line but committed 15 turnovers for just the third time this season.
Once Wheeler-Thomas’s free throws sealed the game, the Bison improved to 12-15 on the season and maintain the third seed in the conference with a 9-6 record. Next, the Bison face possibly their toughest challenge in quite some time as they travel to Oral Roberts on Saturday, a place the Golden Eagles have yet to lose this season.
Grant Nelson; 22 Pts; 14 Reb; 5 Blk; Boden Skunberg; 17 Pts; 7 Reb; 7-12 FG
Bison put up resilient effort but fall to Oral Roberts 74-66
On Thursday evening, the Bison put together a strong performance to take down Kansas City 69-58 and move a step further toward a top-three seed in the Summit League. The third seed is crucial for the Bison to stay on the opposite side of the bracket avoiding Oral Roberts. However, the Golden Eagles were battle-tested by the Herd all night in their home arena where they are undefeated this season. Despite an early deficit, the Bison clawed their way back and proved they can compete with anyone come tournament time.
Once Andrew Morgan gave the Bison an early and only lead of the game in the first 30 seconds, Oral Roberts put their dominant scoring offense on full display. The Mabee Center exploded when ORU rolled out on an 11-0 run over the next four minutes as they hit four of their five shots during that run.
The lead grew larger as senior Max Abmas led his squad to another 14-4 run in the next four minutes to push the lead to 25-6. Abmas scored 11 of his 13 first-half points during that stretch to lead the team, nearly doubling NDSU’s total to that point. The Herd struggled mightily during the opening 10 minutes, shooting just 3-13 from the field and committing 5 turnovers.
As the half went on, the Bison slowly started to chip away. ORU cooled off offensively and the Bison eventually took advantage. Trailing 29-14 with 7:23 to go, Bison leading scorer Grant Nelson finally got on the board with a bucket down low. That would be just the start for the Devils Lake, N.D. native as he scored 14 of the last 16 points of the half for North Dakota State on his way to his sixth-straight double-double.
With an improved defensive effort, Nelson and the Bison were able to trim the ORU lead to four at 34-30. However, the Eagles extended their lead to 36-30 with a Carlos Jurgens bucket as time ran down and the game went to halftime.
Despite the early deficit, the Bison’s 24-11 run to close the half had them within reach, which is not something many Summit League teams can say when they play in Tulsa. The Bison shot 48% from the field in the first half but were just 1-8 from three and 1-2 from the line. The Eagles shot 44% from the field, 32% from deep and 60% from the line through the first 20 minutes of action.
The momentum created in the first half did not carry over into half number two as each team hit a scoring lapse, totaling just three points in the initial five and a half minutes. The two teams shot an atrocious 1-18 combined from the floor until Jacari White cut the ORU lead to 36-35 with 14:31 to play.
Oral Roberts would get on board a moment later with an Issac McBride jumper after nearly six scoreless minutes to start the half. Boden Skunberg would cut the deficit to one, but the Eagles kept rolling.
In the next five minutes, Oral Roberts embarked on a 20-6 run to push their lead to 58-43. Abmas and McBride were key during that stretch, but it was Patrick Mwamba that made the biggest difference. The junior forward scored all 11 of his points during the second half, 10 of which were scored during the 20-6 run, a major blow to the Bison defense.
The Bison never gave in, however, and continued to fight back. Nelson, Skunberg and White all chipped in to cut their deficit to 61-55 with just over three minutes to go. Moments later Nelson slammed home a dunk and the ORU lead was just 63-59 with 1:30 to go.
Thirty seconds later, a jumper from Kareem Thompson and a miss from the Bison took the wind out of NDSU’s sails. The Herd fought as always but Oral Roberts was too good from the free-throw line. Abmas hit six out of his team’s final eight free throws and his team walked away with a 74-66 victory. ORU hit just 30% of their second-half shots and 26% of their threes, but NDSU didn’t fare any better shooting second-half percentages of 39/23/71.
For the game, ORU shot just 37% but went 10-35 from three compared to 4-21 from the Bison. Abmas led all players with 27 points and 5 assists and Grant Nelson led the Bison with a team-high 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 steals.
The loss drops the Bison into a 3rd-place tie with St. Thomas at 9-7. The Bison have a huge game against the Tommies on Thursday, February 23 at Scheels Center that will tip-off at 7 p.m. Student tickets are available at GoBison.com/Students.
For his performance over the weekend, which included two double-doubles, averaging 23.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks, Grant Nelson was named Summit League Men’s Basketball Peak Performer of the Week, league officials announced. It was Nelson’s first weekly honor of his career.
Grant Nelson; 24 Pts; 12 Reb; 3 Stl; Boden Skunberg; 13 Pts 8 Reb