North Dakota State is on a roll for more than one reason.
The Bison (16-7, 8-2 Summit League) toppled Omaha Thursday night 64-57 at Scheels Arena. The victory marked the 22nd home win in a row – the sixth longest streak in the nation.
NDSU is also, most importantly, the leaders of the Summit League.
“It’s cool to be in first, but we’ve still got six regular season games left,” NDSU head coach Dave Richman said. “This league is so tight with the parity.”
Per usual, Lawrence Alexander powered the Bison with 18 points off 5 of 12 shots and went 3-for-8 from the 3-point line.
A.J. Jacobson was right behind Alexander with 15 points and a game-high four assists.
“He’s got a real scorer’s mentality,” Richman said of Jacobson. “You forget he’s a freshman. He’s started to believe a little bit. It was good to see him going early because we needed it.”
It wasn’t all sunshine for NDSU to start. In fact, NDSU trailed the Mavericks (8-14, 2-8) 33-28 at the end of the first half. Omaha out-rebounded the Bison 18-14 and outshot NDSU by converting on 44.8 percent of their shots to NDSU’s 38.5 percent.
The Bison were also forced into seven turnovers in the first frame.
The Bison forced Omaha into 14 turnovers to end the game while NDSU ended up with 12.
“It really seemed like a rough start, but I didn’t think it was that bad,” Bison forward Dexter Werner said. “I think we eventually got into our groove and started playing team ball.”
The Bison big men played pivotal roles, as starting forward Chris Kading racked up seven points, three rebounds, two steals and a couple huge blocks.
Dexter Werner came off the bench to push the Bison offense with nine points and five rebounds.
“They always give their hearts, and that’s something we feed off of,” Alexander said. “Dex is always giving us a spark.”
Werner’s presence was felt most off an offense rebound when Werner jumped over a crowd of Omaha defenders. He came back down, put the ball back up to kiss it off the glass and banked it home.
“(I) just seek the ball,” Werner said. “I try to be aggressive as I can and get the rebound.”
Marcus Tyus was the Mavericks’ leader throughout the game, as he poured in 21 points. He went 7-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-7 from the 3-point line.
Mike Rostampour also put up 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
“We just stuck to our games and came out with the ‘W,’” Alexander said.
Alexander became NDSU’s career leader with 83 wins. Though he credited his teammates and coaches for getting to this point, Richman made sure to credit the four-year starter for his success.
“The kid has just absolutely put this team, especially this year, on his back,” Richman said. “He’s just a special kid, and I’m just happy to be a part of history with him.”