Bison falter on road to South Dakota and South Dakota State; now 6-6 in Summit League play

Losses drop NDSU to fifth in Summit

Herd can’t get rolling; fall 71-62 at South Dakota

Going into the week fresh off a win over rival North Dakota, the Bison men’s basketball team hit the road to face two of their biggest rivals, the South Dakota Coyotes, and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. The Herd, however, took a step back, first in Vermillion where the Coyotes held the Bison to under 40% shooting on the night in a 71-62 defeat.

After falling behind 9-4 early in the first half, the Bison roared back to a 25-21 lead with five minutes to go behind the play of Tajavis Miller and Grant Nelson. The same Bison team that shot 55% against UND last Friday, struggled mightily the rest of the first half on Thursday. The Herd scored just two points the rest of the way and South Dakota went on a 12-2 run to close the half and take a 33-27 lead.

The Bison were led in scoring in the first half by Miller and Nelson who combined for 18 of the Bison’s 27 points. North Dakota State shot just 41% in the first half and Andrew Morgan was held scoreless in the first 20 minutes and tallied just one point for the day while returning to the lineup following a one-game absence.

NDSU forward Grant Nelson can only watch as South Dakota guard Max Burchill dunks the ball for two points on Thursday night at Sanford Coyote Sports Center in Vermillion. Nelson collected back-to-back double-doubles for the Herd on the road trip through South Dakota. Photo Courtesy | USD Athletics

The Coyotes were led in scoring by Kruz Perrott-Hunt with eight first-half points to lead his team to a slim advantage. South Dakota connected on just 42% of their shots, but the stingy Coyote defense set the tone for the day. Prior to Thursday, the Bison were 8-0 on the season when allowing less than 75 points, but that number was put in jeopardy after a 27-point first half.

South Dakota came out hot into the second half by way of an 11-4 run. The Bison would shortly cut the deficit back to single digits at 46-38 but it was short-lived. The Coyotes embarked on a 9-0 run in the next two and a half minutes of play. Scoring eight of those nine points were Tasos Kamateros, who scored a season-high 23 points, 18 of those coming in the second half.

The deficit for North Dakota State would shortly fall to 65-49 with 5:19 to play, but in just the next four minutes of play, the Bison cut the lead to five at 65-60 following an 11-0 run. Boden Skunberg, who was excellent in the second half scoring 19 of his team-high 23 points, missed a three with under a minute to go that would have brought the Bison within two.

Besides Grant Nelson hitting his first shot from the field in the second half with 30 seconds left, Kamateros and A.J. Plitzuweit put the game away from the free throw line, hitting all six of their shots as the Coyotes pulled away 71-62. The Bison shot just 39% from the field in the second half and have now lost to the Coyotes for just the second time in the last 10 meetings.

Game Stats:

Boden Skunberg; 23 Pts 8-18 FG; Grant Nelson; 13 Pts 13 Reb

Bison drop high-scoring affair to South Dakota State 90-85

Following an impressive 65-59 win over the Jackrabbits in Fargo nearly a month ago, the Bison traveled to Brookings, S.D. in hopes of winning their first game at Frost Arena since December 2016. After holding Jacks’ leading scorer Zeke Mayo to just 13 points in the first meeting, the Bison had no answer for Mayo on Saturday, who dropped 41 points on the Herd, becoming the 8th player in South Dakota State history to score 40 points in a game.

However, it was the Grant Nelson show first yet again. After just a 13-point showing on Thursday, Nelson responded by scoring 11 of the Bison’s first 15 points. With 14:12 to play in the first half, the Bison roared out to a 15-6 lead. The junior forward was on his way to his fifth double-double of the season and finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds on the day.

The Bison rolled to a 22-9 lead following a three from Jacari White, leading to a timeout from South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson with 11:41 to go in the half. The Jacks would claw back, but the Bison offense was too dynamic to catch all the way up. The Herd had eight different players in the scoring column in the first half and shot 53/46/100 shooting percentages in the first half.

Each team continued to score at a high rate for the rest of the stanza. The Bison were up 41-35 after a jumper from Damari Wheeler-Thomas and would soon add another to his record. However, Mayo rounded out his incredible first half with two long balls, the second of which was a step-back three from way downtown. Despite surrendering 20 first-half points to Mayo, the Bison held a slim lead over the Jacks 43-41 at the break.

Mayo would continue to display his offensive excellence to begin the second half. The sophomore guard from Lawrence, Kansas scored seven of his team’s first 11 points as he guided his team to a 52-48 lead in the first three minutes of the second half. Mayo has now scored 20 points in six of his last seven games and has seen his points per game for the season rise from 14.9 to 18.1 during that stretch.

The Bison would continue to trail for the majority of the half, but a strong performance on the offensive end kept the Herd in the game. The shooting and interior game of Jacari White and Grant Nelson respectively kept the Bison rolling. The Bison would finally retake the lead following a bucket from Andrew Morgan and held a 68-67 lead with 8:20 remaining.

The game was back and forth the rest of the way with Nelson and Mayo taking over on the offensive end. With just 4:07 to play, the Jacks would go on a 7-2 run over the next three minutes of play, uplifting the home faithful. However, Jacari White cut the deficit to one at 86-85 with nine seconds to play, giving the Bison hope but to no avail.

After Mayo hit two free throws to bring his point total to 41, he stole the inbound pass from Boden Skunberg. Matt Mims was subsequently fouled and nailed both free throws to clinch the 90-85 victory. Despite shooting nearly 60% for the game, the Bison fell for the fourth time in the last five games.

Following the tough loss, the Bison drop to 6th in the Summit League at 6-6 but return home for their next slate. The Bison will host Omaha at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 9, and Denver two days later on Saturday at 1 p.m. Student tickets are available at

Game Stats:

Grant Nelson; 27 Pts 15 Reb 10-13 FG; Jacari White; 18 Pts 6-8 FG

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