Bison men sweep road slate; extend win streak to five 

Herd sits in 2nd in Summit League at 5-2 

Bison win fourth in a row with rout of Denver 90-70 

Building off quality home wins against rivals South Dakota State and South Dakota, the Bison men’s basketball team traveled to the Rocky Mountains for the first of a two-game road trip. Not only did North Dakota State win their fourth game in a row, but they also knocked off the Pioneers for the tenth straight time on Thursday. The Bison caught Denver at the right time as the Pioneers have now lost eight of their last ten games following an 8-1 start. A group effort by David Richman’s crew fused together to score 90 points, their second-highest point total of the season. 

The Bison started off the game hot as they came out on a 12-6 run in the first five and a half minutes captained by Grant Nelson. Since Summit League play began, Nelson has been a machine averaging 19.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. In the first half, Nelson led the way for the Bison scoring 13 of his game-high 17 points to pace the Herd. 

For the next three minutes, that lead continued to stretch to 28-15 following a three from Jacari White. White, who has averaged 11.7 points per game in his last eleven contests, had another effective night dropping 15 points in 26 minutes.  

White has also been a massive part of North Dakota State’s recent defensive success. While holding Zeke Mayo to just thirteen points earlier this year, White and the Bison have only allowed 49, 59 and 61 points in their last three games, their three lowest totals on the year after allowing 76.8 points per game through the first 14 games. 

Meanwhile, Denver’s defense has been nearly nonexistent recently. In their last five games, the Pioneers have allowed 85 points per game. The Bison would eventually eclipse that mark and were aided in that by finishing out the first half strong. Once Denver pulled within reach and trailed 40-34, Boden Skunberg snatched the momentum back with a three at the buzzer. Shooting 53% from the field and hitting six long balls as a team helped guide the Herd into the break with a lead. 

In the second half of play, the Bison continued to dominate on the offensive end of the floor. Through the first 3:07 of play, NDSU conducted a14-5 run and led 57-39 with five different players putting the ball through the nylon including Tajavis Miller who returned from his two-game absence. 

The Bison’s lead would surpass 20 points and reached 27 at 87-60 following a long ball by the Bison’s most efficient three-point shooter, Sam Hastreiter, who’s shooting 48% from deep. No player scored in double-digits in the second half for North Dakota State, but nine players combined for 47 points on the way to 90 for the game. 

Free throws and turnovers have also been an area of concern for North Dakota State this season, but not on Thursday. The Bison shot 22-28 from the line, good for 79%, which is their best in a conference game this season. Damari Wheeler-Thomas, who was 5-5 from the charity stripe, had zero turnovers on the day and now has just one turnover in his last 119 minutes played. 

While Denver would proceed to go on a 10-3 run to close the game, the damage had been done. The Bison guards held Denver’s leading scorer, Tommy Bruner, below his season average of 16.6 points per game, totaling just 11 points on the night on 4-13 shooting. When Denver hosts North Dakota on Saturday, they’ll look to improve in many aspects, including an 11-19 showing on free throws, and reach the same number of wins as last season to stay above .500. 

North Dakota State scored its second-most points of the season and is playing their best ball of the year as they improve to 4-2 in conference play. They may, however, have their hands full against Omaha, who held UND to just 33% shooting from the field on Thursday. Saturday’s game will tip from Omaha at noon. 

Game Stats: 

Grant Nelson; 17 Pts 9 Reb 4 Blk; Jacari White; 15 Pts 5-9 FG; Boden Skunberg; 15 Pts 5 Reb 

Strong second half drives Bison over Omaha 78-65 for fifth straight win 

Just as they have against Denver, the Bison men’s basketball team has had great success when colliding with the Omaha Mavericks on the hardwood, winning the last seven meetings prior to Saturday’s matinee. While North Dakota State is coming off a 20-point victory over Denver on Thursday, Omaha squeaked by last-place UND on Thursday 69-63. The Mavericks held the Fighting Hawks to 33% shooting but committed 17 turnovers to slow themselves down. Despite a slow start to the game, the Bison finished strong to improve to 5-2 in conference play. 

The first half featured each team fighting tooth and nail with neither team leading by more than four points. The Bison were led in scoring by forward Andrew Morgan in the first half, who scored 10 of his 15 points in the first 20 minutes. On Thursday, the Bison had arguably their best performance from the free throw line, shooting 22-28. Saturday, the Bison struggled from there as they connected on just one of five attempts from the line and went 7-15 for the game. 

While Omaha’s trips to the free throw line were also scarce, they hit the rest of their shots with high efficiency. The Mavericks connected on 57% of their shots in the first half, guiding them to a first half lead. Sophomore transfer JJ White was the main man for the Mavericks, scoring nine of his team-high 16 points in the first half. Trailing by one, White hit a bucket from down low with just two seconds remaining that would give his team a 29-28 lead at the intermission. 

Despite their losing record, the Bison have had the advantage over their opponents all year in the second half, outscoring teams 733-703 prior to Saturday. That trend continued in their weekend finale as the Herd connected on 60% of their shots including eight made three-pointers. 

Taking over the game for the Bison was Jamestown, N.D. product Boden Skunberg. On his way to a career-high day, Skunberg was white-hot in the second half. After the first seven minutes of action, the Herd roared to a 50-39 lead behind a bombardment of long balls. North Dakota State connected on five treys during that stretch including four by Skunberg. After Skunberg hit his fourth three of the half and third in under two minutes of action, Omaha Head Coach Chris Crutchfield called a timeout with 12:56 remaining in the game following the Bison’s 22-10 run. 

The Mavericks would stay on par with the Bison pulling the deficit to just 55-48, but North Dakota State used four different scorers to go on a 9-0 run and stretch the lead to 16. Omaha kept persisting and trying to make runs but Skunberg and Jacari White closed out the game. Skunberg hit his seventh and final three of the contest and put on the finishing touches with a bucket down low to cap his career-high 25-point day. White would continue his defensive success highlighted by a blocked three of JJ White and turned it into a layup. 

White has been the embodiment of a three and D guy for the Bison this year. While knocking down 40% of his long balls, White continues to lock up defenders. Along with 11 points scored, White accumulated 3 steals and 3 blocks on the day and was crucial in forcing 16 Maverick turnovers. 

After Grant Nelson threw down a dunk in the waning stages of the game, the Bison improved to 5-2 in league play, good for second in the Summit League. The only team ahead of the Bison is the 2021 Summit League champions Oral Roberts. Scoring machine Max Abmas and the Golden Eagles will venture up north to the Scheels Center on Thursday for a 7 p.m. tip. Student tickets are available at 

Game Stats: 

Boden Skunberg; 25 Pts 7 Reb 7-10 3P; Andrew Morgan 15 Pts 5 Reb; Jacari White; 11 Pts 3 Stl 3 Blk 

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