FARGO — The Summit League is just a couple weeks into its season and already eight of the nine teams have at least two conference wins. So, buckle up, there are going to be a lot of men’s basketball head-on crashes in the next couple of months.
Like the one Wednesday night at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
Bison guard Tyson Ward scored on a driving layup with 1.4 seconds remaining to give NDSU a 72-70 win over the University of South Dakota, finishing off a back-and-forth affair that had all kinds of drama to it.
Like Ward, who normally wears No. 24, but ended the game with No. 30 after “accidentally tearing my jersey.”
“I didn’t know I was that strong,” he said.
He was strong to the basket when it counted, however. Bison guard Vinnie Shahid inbounded the ball to Ward near the Bison bench. Both USD defenders in the area started to converge on Shahid, expecting NDSU’s leading scorer to get the ball back, which unexpectedly left Ward without anybody guarding him.
With an open path, he bolted toward the rim, slicing by another USD player in the process, and scored easily.
“We drew up a play for a handoff … they might have doubled it and we read it,” Ward said.
The Coyotes appeared to double Shahid because they expected him to get the ball.
“Shahid took it out and we didn’t want him to get it back,” said USD head coach Todd Lee. “And they faked the handoff, and we did a bad job with that. Once you see him take the ball out, you know he’s probably going to try and get it back, but they have a couple guys who are really good. They’re both seniors and know how to win.”
Tied at 70, NDSU had the shot it wanted with 35 seconds left, but Shahid misfired on an open 3-pointer from the left wing. On the other end, USD guard Cody Kelley was whistled for an offensive foul with 7.5 seconds remaining.
With fouls to give before the bonus free throw, Ward was hacked at 4.2 seconds while racing up the court and the Bison took a timeout to set up the final play.
“It’s something we talked about in the timeout,” said Bison head coach Dave Richman. “You have two really good players and let’s put them into action and let them go make winning plays. I’m not a huge timeout guy because our guys know what to do and execute.”
The way the first half went, it was a question of who was going to finish strong. The Coyotes took advantage of an 0-for-9 Bison start from the field and took a 12-point lead on three separate occasions, the last 28-16 with 7:19 left in the first half.
Starting guard Tyree Eady ignited a rally with three 3-pointers. And the Bison found a right combination consisting of a couple of starters and reserves Chris Quayle and Jaxon Knotek, the latter two doing the job on both ends of the floor.
“Those guys carried us tonight,” Eady said. “They came in and did the job for us. It’s a testament to how mature we are and how much we’ve grown over the season. The second lineup did a great job.”
Trailing 33-24, the Bison finished the half on a 17-1 run with Shahid accounting for almost half of the output. Knotek, who had two blocked shots in the span, hit a 3-pointer to tie it and Quayle had a trey and two free throws among the frenzy.
NDSU went almost the first seven minutes of the game without a field goal. The Coyotes went the last 5:30 of the first half without a basket.
The opposite held true in the second half. Each team traded hoops on a regular basis.
Until Ward finished it off, leaving the Bison 3-1 in the Summit heading into Saturday afternoon’s home clash with the University of North Dakota.
Shahid finished with 21 points and Eady 18. Quayle finished with 7 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots in 26 minutes. NDSU is still without starters Jared Samuelson and Sam Griesel because of injuries.
“We’re at a vulnerable state with a couple horses out, a couple starters, so everybody is going to try and take advantage of us,” Richman said. “We had a couple guys step up.”
USD (11-8, 2-3 Summit): Hagedorn 9-17 2-3 21, Umude 9-20 3-6 23, Simpson 2-4 5-6 10, Kelley 3-6 0-0 8, Peterson 3-3 2-3 8, Goodrick 0-0 0-0 0, Chisom 0-1 0-0 0, Armstrong 0-0 0-0 0, Johns 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-51 12-18 70.
NDSU (12-6, 3-1 Summit): Kreuser 2-6 0-0 4, Shahid 7-14 4-4 21, Eady 7-11 0-0 18, Hunter 0-5 0-0 0, Ward 6-9 1-3 14, Knotek 1-4 0-0 3, Quayle 2-4 2-2 7, Witz 2-2 0-0 4, Harden-Hayes 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 27-55 8-11 72.
Halftime: NDSU 41, USD 34. Total fouls: USD 16, NDSU 15. Fouled out: Peterson. Rebounds: USD 31 (Umude 9); NDSU 25 (Kreuser, Quayle 5). 3-point goals: USD 6-13 (Hagedorn 1-5, Umude 2-4, Simpson 1-1, Kelley 2-3); NDSU 10-30 (Kreuser 0-4, Shahid 3-7, Eady 4-7, Hunter 0-4, Ward 1-2, Knotek 1-3, Quayle 1-3). Assists: USD 12 (Simpson 6); NDSU 14 (Ward 5). Turnovers: USD 10 (three with 2); NDSU 10 (four with 2). A-2,213.