The North Dakota State Bison men’s basketball team limped back home after a disappointing weekend that featured a pair of close conference losses. A visit from Mayville State provided an opportunity to return some good feelings back into the locker room.
After defeating the Comets 87-53, the good vibes were back, at least for the moment. More importantly, a new name entered into the Bison record books.
Sophomore Jared Samuelson went 10-15 from the field, including 9-13 from three. The nine 3-pointers broke the single-game school record of eight set by Lawrence Alexander in 2015.
“I am so happy for that kid,” head coach David Richman said. “You ask what can be the benefits of this game, that can be something.”
On an odd night, Samuelson’s first-half threes were almost always timely. His first of the game was early and broke a 2-2 tie inside the two minutes.
Ten minutes later, his second three broke a three-minute scoring drought by the Bison that had allowed the Comets to take a three-point lead.
Mayville’s Cameron Epps answered right back with a three of his own to restore the Comets’ lead. For 15 minutes, Mayville stayed close. But the Bison finally broke away as most expected them to.
With just under four minutes left to play in the first, Samuelson hit back-to-back threes to give the Bison the lead for good and a five-point cushion.
NDSU ended the half on a 16-0 run while holding the Comets scoreless for nearly the final six minutes.
Mayville came out the quicker of the two teams after the break, putting up five quick points to cut the lead back to just 10.
Senior A.J. Jacobson snuffed out the Comets’ run with an old-fashioned three-point play. The Comets came again to within 10, only for Samuelson to connect from three again.
Samuelson’s sixth three of the evening was a good snapshot of the Bison’s season so far. Sophomore Tyson Ward went for the three of his own and missed the rim. Deng Geu made a leaping save to keep the ball inbounds. His toss landed in the hands of Samuelson, who pulled up and knocked down the shot.
NDSU finished off the Comets in the middle of the half with an 8-0 blitz in just 50 seconds. Jacobson knocked down the three before Samuelson hit the record-tying eighth three on the night. Spencer Ellison hit a layup to push the score to 73-49.
Samuelson put himself alone in the record books with 6:41 left in the game, hitting one last 3-pointer.
Samuelson was quick to recognize his teammates’ effort in his record-breaking game. “They got me open a lot of shots. Tyson (Ward), Cameron (Hunter), Deng (Geu), a few others that I probably forgot. But they got me open.”
Number 10 remained elusive, as much as the small crowd at the SHAC wanted it. After he was announced as the player of the game and his record-breaking performance was made known, the loudest cheers came on his two late three-point attempts.
The Gretna, Nebraska native was fouled on the first, and converted all three shots from the charity stripe. The second attempt at 10 glanced off the rim.
Now the Bison must move on and focus on the big picture. NDSU still sit 4-7 in the Summit League. The mid-table fight in the Summit means that NDSU could still receive the No. 3 spot heading into Sioux Falls for tournament play.
“We needed a win, and hopefully we can get things rolling these last two games,” Samuelson said. “We all believe in ourselves.”
Saturday is senior night at the SHAC, and one senior sat out Tuesday with a small injury. Paul Miller, the Bison’s top scorer, did not play against Mayville.
“Day-to-day, it’s a fine line with some things,” Richman said. “His numbers reflected some things that were bothering him (last weekend).”
That meant both Millers did not see the floor Tuesday, as junior Dylan Miller finished serving a three-game suspension for a “violation of departmental and program rules,” Richman said.
NDSU hosts Fort Wayne 2 p.m. Saturday for Senior Day at the SHAC.