by Taylor Schloemer contributing writer
The North Dakota State Bison got a boost this weekend with two Summit League wins inside the cozy confines of the Scheels Arena.
The week started with a hard fought battle against the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles on Thursday night. It took a season-high 20 points from A.J. Jacobson for the Bison to take away a 67-63 victory.
Heading into the game, the main focus for the Bison defense was shutting down Obi Emegano. Emegano led the Golden Eagles with 23.2 points per game heading into the contest.
He spent little time getting started, scoring the game’s first four points on his way to a 20-point evening.
From then on, teams took turns trading shots, with ORU only managing to open an eight-point lead near the middle of the first half.
The bad news for the Bison was not the scoreboard, however, as Paul Miller left the game with an apparent knee injury. With just over seven minutes left in the opening half, Bison forward Dexter Werner was bumped while jumping for a rebound and came down on the sophomore’s leg, which twisted awkwardly. Miller went to the locker room and did not return.
The Bison faced an uphill battle to recover from the deficit, but Malik Clements scored nine of his 14 points in the first half, cutting the Golden Eagles lead to two at the halftime.
After the break, the slug fest continued, but it was Jacobson who would put ORU on the ropes, hitting two three pointers in quick succession to give the Bison a lead.
The Golden Eagles were not done yet, responding with a 16-3 run to take a six-point lead with six minutes to play.
The Bison responded as a team, with Jacobson, Clements and Kory Brown scoring down the stretch. Brown would score 10 of his 12 points in the second half while battling foul trouble. It was Werner who would put the Bison ahead 62-61, a lead the team would hold on to until the final buzzer.
“When you take out one of the best players in the league, it’s going to turn into a bit of a rock fight.” head coach Dave RIchman said.
That rock fight was figured to continue Saturday as the Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons visited Fargo.
The league’s top team came out flat, though, and the Bison opened the game on an 11-0 run, with Clements hitting two three-pointers, and Jacobson hitting another. The Bison would never look back.
The Mastodons struggled all afternoon shooting, only converting 28 percent of its shots from the field, but kept the game within striking distance as five of its seven first half baskets where shot from three point land to keep the score 37-25 at the break.
Following a great start to the game, it was the Bison’s turn to go flat coming out to start the second half.
A period of sloppy play allowed IPFW to close within five.
But the Bison recovered with Werner reversing the tide, Jacobson hitting threes and Brown getting a circus shot off a reverse lay-up to drop to get the lead back to 14.
The final buzzer sounded with the scoreboard at 62-46 for the Bison. Jacobson led all players with a new season-high 22 points, and tying his career-high with five three pointers. The Mastodons’ leading scorer Max Landis was shut down after scoring 44 earlier this week, was only allowed nine points Saturday with Khy Kabellis taking him on throughout.
The Bison (16-8, 6-4 in Summit League) will go on the road this week to take on University South Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha on Thursday and Saturday.