Stagnant offense spells doom against Mavericks
For the second consecutive game, the North Dakota State men’s basketball team took a double-digit lead over the Summit League’s top team. In keeping with the pattern, NDSU once again came out on the losing end, falling to the Omaha Mavericks 58-50.
The Bison took control of the contest in the early going, sinking 3-pointers to jump out to a quick lead. Vinnie Shahid knocked down a pair of 3-point shots, while Cameron Hunter, Tyree Eady and Jared Samuelson also added triples.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks’ typical offensive prowess escaped them. The squad that entered the game averaging 86.6 points per game in February looked like a shell of itself. Omaha shot 28 percent from the floor in the first half, including 10 misses on 11 3-point attempts.
The Bison defense flustered the disjointed Mavericks’ offense throughout vast stretches of the first half. Even as NDSU fell into a 5-minute, 51-second scoring drought, Omaha managed merely three points during the stretch.
A 3-pointer from Shahid eventually snapped the streak. NDSU led by as many as 12 points in the opening frame and entered the locker room with an eight-point advantage.
However, the lead evaporated quickly in the second half. After Samuelson knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to open the half, the Bison fell quiet from the field.
A pair of free throws from Rocky Kreuser were the only points the Bison could muster amid yet another lapse in scoring. Again, a triple from Shahid stopped the bleeding, but it proved a mirage in a scoring desert.
Shahid’s basket came with 5:23 remaining in the half and wound up as not only NDSU’s last field goal of the afternoon but also their final lead. The Mavericks scored 12 of the game’s closing 14 points to steal a victory in spite of themselves. Omaha shot 38 percent from the floor and posted their lowest scoring output since Nov. 26 at Iowa State.
The Mavericks salvaged the win thanks to the fact that NDSU’s offense was equally atrocious. In the final 11:04 of the contest, the Bison managed a meager seven points. Making matters worse, NDSU recorded their lowest point total and field goal percentage of the campaign.
Both Shahid and Samuelson offered a blunt assessment of NDSU’s performance. “We didn’t play with any effort,” Shahid remarked afterward. “We didn’t cut hard. We were forced to take bad shots at the end of shot clock. We just didn’t play hard.”
Samuelson echoed the sentiment. “We got stagnant,” the junior said. “We didn’t make plays for each other.
The Bison spent large stretches of the second half attempting to rediscover their 3-point stroke. NDSU was unsuccessful in the pursuit, missing 14 of 17 shots behind the arc.
“I thought we did a lot of settling today,” head coach David Richman commented afterward. “Shooting isn’t everything, but if you go back to the Oral Roberts and South Dakota State games, we shot it pretty well. Sometimes that can give you some false confidence.”
Still, Richman remained upbeat, calling upon his team to remain focused on the conclusion of the season. “There is no time like the present. We need to make sure we’re crushing these moments,” he stated. “The last hurdle for us is getting over these top-tier opponents.”
Shahid led the Bison with 13 points. Samuelson added 11, while Deng Geu scored 10. The Bison fell to 8-5 in conference, squandering a golden opportunity to pull into a tie for third with Purdue Fort Wayne.
NDSU will play at South Dakota next Thursday and meet up with Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday.
The path to the advantageous No. 3 seed is still in front of them, but the loss complicates matters. NDSU will have to win both of their final games and hope the Mastodons lose against North Dakota next Thursday if they’re to slide into third.
“We’ve got our hands full in the next two, and that’s OK,” Richman said. “It’s never been about the results for me, as crazy as that sounds. It’s the process I’m interested in and how we attack that process.”