FARGO — A veteran stuffed the stat sheet, while a newcomer gave the team a lift with key players out with injury. That combination helped vault North Dakota State to an NCAA Division I nonconference victory Monday night inside the Scheels Center at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
Bison senior Tyson Ward had 19 points, 13 rebounds and four assists to help his team power past Montana State for a 79-65 men's basketball victory before 2,523 fans.
"Tyson was just really, really, really good. We needed it," said Bison head coach Dave Richman. "That is one heck of a line right there. I thought he was terrific at both ends of the floor."
Meanwhile, true freshman Maleeck Harden-Hayes scored a career-high 10 points for the Bison on 3-for-3 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers. The 6-foot-7 Harden-Hayes also grabbed two rebounds, playing less than 12 minutes.
"I think the best quality for Maleeck, I don't think he knows if it's Montana State or Mayville State or whoever," Richman said. "He just competes his tail off. ... He's a talented young man."
The Bison were without senior guard Jared Samuelson and sophomore forward Sam Griesel.
Griesel was on crutches on the bench after having an injury setback over the weekend, Richman said. The Bison next play at Marquette on Friday, Dec. 20, before they start Summit League play on Dec. 29 at Denver. Richman said Griesel will likely miss the start of conference play with a knew injury. Richman added Samuelson is day-to-day and wasn't sure if he would be ready to play against Marquette.
"Sam is going to be out for a period of time. He's more week-by-week," Richman said. "It's a pretty significant setback."
The Bison trailed early in the second half against Montana State before back-to-back 3-pointers from Tyree Eady and Jaxon Knotek pushed them into the lead for good. Knotek's 3-pointer gave the Bison a 44-40 lead with 13 minutes, 45 seconds to play.
The Bison later scored seven consecutive points to push their lead into double digits. Eady capped that run with a 3-pointer that gave NDSU a 65-51 lead with 6:48 remaining.
"It doesn't matter who we put out there, you've got a whole bunch of buckets on the team," Ward said. "That's really why we are a scary team."
Senior point guard Vinnie Shahid paced the Bison with 24 points on 8-for-15 shooting from the field, despite battling sickness, Richman said. The NDSU had 27 bench points with Harden-Hayes leading the way. Junior forward Tyler Witz added nine points and Knotek finished with eight.
"I just want to give effort and energy each time I go out on the court," said Harden-Hayes, a former Moorhead Spuds standout. "I am just going to be Maleeck Harden and do what I've got to do."
Shahid had a strong first half to help the Bison take a lead into halftime. Shahid scored 12 points in the opening 20 minutes on 5-for-10 shooting from the floor, including two 3-pointers.
The Bison used a 10-2 in the first half to build an eight-point lead. Ward scored four points during that stretch and Harden-Hayes added a 3-pointer. Rocky Kreuser capped the rally with a free throw that gave the Bison a 25-17 lead with 9:43 to play until halftime, for NDSU's largest lead in the first half.
Montana State scored the first seven points in the second half to take a 38-34 lead after junior guard Amin Adamu scored a basket with 17:28 to play. The Bison responded, however, and rallied to victory.
"That is a great win for us, make absolutely no mistake, I think Montana State is a good ballclub," Richman said. "There was just a lot of adversity this week."
MSU (6-4): Ricketts 0-2 0-0 0, Belo 4-6 6-8 14, Kirby 0-1 0-0 0, Adamu 9-16 0-1 19, Frey 7-16 2-2 18, Paulo 5-8 0-0 12, Fernandez 0-0 0-0 0, Hobbs 0-0 0-0 0, Quinlan 1-3 0-0 2, Fleute 0-1 0-0 0, Bellach 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 8-11 65.
NDSU (8-4): Kreuser 0-5 1-2 1, Shahid 8-15 5-5 24, Eady 2-4 0-0 6, Hunter 1-6 0-0 2, Ward 6-12, 6-8 19, Witz 4-5 1-2 9, Knotek 2-4 2-2 8, Quayle 0-2 0-0 0, Harden-Hayes 3-3 2-2 10. Totals 26-56 17-21 79.
Half: NDSU 34, MSU 31. 3-point goals: MSU 5-15 (Ricketts 0-2, Adamu 1-1, Frey 2-6, Paulo 2-4, Quinlan 0-2), NDSU 10-26 (Kreuser 0-3, Shahid 3-8, Eady 2-4, Hunter 0-2, Ward 1-2, Knotek 2-4, Quayle 0-1, Harden-Hayes 2-2). Total fouls: MSU 18, NDSU 16. Fouled out: Kreuser. Rebounds: MSU 33 (Adamu 6), NDSU 27 (Ward 13). Assists: MSU 8 (Frey 4), NDSU 11 (Ward 4). Turnovers: MSU 16, NDSU 5.