FARGO — North Dakota State forward Tyson Ward is filling up the stat sheet. And the Bison are digesting men’s basketball victories at a regular rate lately.
The senior had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists to lead NDSU to an 83-74 victory over the University of North Dakota on Sunday afternoon. It was NDSU’s fifth win in six games and further established the Bison as a Summit League regular season title contender at 4-1.
NDSU is doing it on the backs of Ward and Vinnie Shahid, two seniors who usually had their hands on the ball in the closing minutes.
“Tyson and Vinnie made some winning plays,” said Bison head coach Dave Richman. “I feel like we have good personnel across the board, but they are obviously talented players, been-there-done-that guys.”
NDSU never trailed in improving to 13-6 overall. UND lost its fourth straight game and fell to 8-12 and 3-3 in the league. The game was postponed from Saturday because of the blizzard that impacted the Red River Valley.
The biggest storm burst on the court came from Shahid.
The Bison maintained a six- to seven-point lead after a brief spurt with just under three minutes left in the first half, until Shahid took over in the second half. The point guard had a driving layup after an ultra-quick move out front, had a no-look dish for a layup by Tyler Witz and canned a long 3-pointer from the wing, the latter with 13:18 remaining to give the Bison a 56-47 advantage.
It was the first run of points by either team that led to a time out, in this case the Fighting Hawks taking one.
With sophomore forward Filip Rebraca about the lone scoring threat for UND at that point, the double-digit lead loomed large.
“We know we can bring more to the table,” said UND guard Marlon Stewart. “It’s frustrating. It’s something we have to keep getting better at. We’ll go back to the drawing board and figure some things out.”
The comfort factor for NDSU didn’t last. Gertautas Urbonavicius’ three-point play off a scramble for an offensive rebound cut the Bison lead to 58-54 with 9:11 left. Ward took it from there.
Three straight hoops, the last two tip-ins with the final one a three-point play, restored NDSU’s lead to 68-59 with 4:40 remaining. Another tip-in, this one from Rocky Kreuser, made it 71-59 at 3:12.
“I Iike rebounds,” Ward said. “It’s like my bread and butter. They’re easy to get. I happened to be there, read the ball right and put them in.”
UND never threatened from there.
“I’m sure it’s frustrating to these guys,” said UND head coach Paul Sather. “Nobody wants to give up a rebound, they’re not trying to do that stuff. But as a team we need all five guys on the same page to make sure they’re doing their job. You can’t do that, (NDSU) is a good team, very solid. The offensive rebounds were great effort on their part.”
Stewart led UND with 22 points, getting most of his production late. Rebraca had 21 points and 8 rebounds.
“Effort, sometimes we have a lot of it, sometimes we don’t,” Rebraca said. “We’ll watch film and see that the effort is not always there for 40 minutes. It’s something we need to do a better job of.”
NDSU got guard Jared Samuelson back from a shoulder injury for the first time in over a month.
UND (8-12, 2-4 Summit): Rebraca 8-11 5-5 21, Walter 3-10 0-0 8, Stewart 7-13 6-7 22, Brown 3-5 2-2 9, Allen-Eikens 3-11 1-2 7, Urbonavicius 2-5 1-1 5, Danielson 1-4 0-0 2, Atelbauers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-60 15-17 74.
NDSU (13-6, 4-1 Summit): Kreuser 3-7 0-0 7, Shahid 6-14 8-8 22, Eady 2-4 5-6 10, Hunter 1-4 0-0 2, Ward 11-22 4-5 27, Knotek 1-2 0-0 3, Witz 3-3 1-2 7, Quayle 0-0 0-0 0, Harden-Hayes 0-0 0-0 0, Samuelson 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 28-57 20-23 83.
Half: NDSU 41, UND 34. Total fouls: UND 21, NDSU 21. Fouled out: Kreuser. Rebounds: UND 34 (Rebraca 8); NDSU 31 (Ward 11). 3-point goals: UND 5-20 (Walter 2-6, Stewart 2-5, Brown 1-2, Allen-Eikens 0-3, Urbonavicius 0-1, Danielson 0-2, Atelbauers 0-1); NDSU 7-18 (Kreuser 1-2, Shahid 2-6, Eady 1-2, Hunter 0-2, Ward 1-3, Knotek 1-2, Samuelson 1-1). Assists: UND 8 (Stewart 6): NDSU 13 (Shahid 5). Turnovers: UND 10 (Rebraca, Allen-Eikens 3); NDSU 6 (six with 1). A—3,817.