Four Bison reach double-digits to open home stand
The North Dakota State men’s basketball team is finding its groove. The Herd have now won four straight and seven of their last nine after beating Denver at the SHAC Saturday 81-71.
The win avenged the loss the Bison suffered earlier in the year at the hands of the Pioneers and may serve as a confidence booster as the team enters a tough part of their schedule.
The team may be rolling, but head coach David Richman thinks his group can get even better.
“We’re playing well. I wouldn’t say we’ve, you know, peaked,” Richman said. “When you have an opportunity to knock somebody out, or whatever you know, we weren’t able to do that tonight. And that’s where we’ve got room to grow.”
Junior point guard Vinnie Shahid was the fulcrum for the Bison all game. Shahid put up 27 points on 7 of 13 shooting to go along with 7 assists. Shahid also added 5 rebounds and a couple steals to add to his player of the game resume. The junior has been on a tear recently, averaging 21.5 points over the course of the Herd’s four-game winning streak.
“My teammates are doing a good job at finding me in situations where I’m comfortable. They keep giving me confidence, so I give it off to my teammates,” Shahid said.
Tyree Eady provided a key spark for the Bison coming off the bench. The redshirt freshman from Wisconsin totaled six of the 11 total 3-point field goals made by the Bison.
The Bison got up early on the Pioneers, going on an early 13-2 run, and they led by as many as 15 in the first half. As Richman noted, the Bison just could not deliver the knockout punch.
Denver pulled within eight before a Shahid 3-pointer put the Bison up 11 going into half. Following the bucket, Shahid trotted down the floor getting the crowd pumped up, as a small grin emerged on the face of the Minneapolis native. It was the look on the face of a kid that was having all kinds of fun.
As the second half started, the wheels almost fell off for the Bison. Denver proceeded to score the first seven points of the half, as the game was looking like a repeat from the two team’s first matchup. Rocky Kreuser nailed 3-pointers on two straight trips down the floor, but Denver just would not go away.
A layup by Pioneer’s junior Abiola Akintola brought Denver within two with just under 10 minutes to play. Shahid calmly ended the Pioneer run, draining a deep 3-pointer as he was getting fouled.
Although he was unable to complete the 4-point play (his only miss from the charity stripe), the bucket gave the Bison some much needed energy. Tyson Ward completed a tough 3-point play the next trip down the floor as the home crowd was brought to their feet.
The Pioneers wouldn’t get closer than six the rest of the way.
It was a good win for the Bison to remain fourth in the Summit League standings. The Bison will take on Oral Roberts on Valentine’s Day before two key matchups with South Dakota State and Omaha.
Nobody wants to play NDSU right now. Outside of the Jackrabbits, the Bison are the hottest team in the conference. The Herd are playing their best ball of the year at the right time.