FARGO - They came to Fargo with all kinds of names and school colors over the years. Friday night, Purdue-Fort Wayne’s final trip to North Dakota State came against a Bison team that is on a roll.
No fire alarms went off like they did in this game two years ago. Tyson Ward lit the flame this time with 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and the Bison took an 80-70 victory before 2,596 fans at Scheels Center at Bison Sports Arena. The sixth straight win is the longest NDSU winning streak since 10 in a row at the close of the 2013-14 season.
“That sounds pretty good to me,” Ward said. “But you have to build off wins like this.”
The Mastodons were most commonly known as Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne (IPFW) wearing the royal blue and white uniforms. There was a movement of just a stand alone Fort Wayne or the cumbersome Indiana University Purdue University at Fort Wayne.
Purdue-Fort Wayne, a second-year name with mainly the Purdue Boilermakers’ old gold as the predominant complimentary school color, will join the Horizon League next year. Every league game will be a bus trip instead of traversing the Midwest and its variety of airports.
“It’s such good basketball here,” said Fort Wayne head coach Jon Coffman. “I have a lot respect for the basketball in North Dakota and South Dakota.”
It took Coffman six years to get his first win in Fargo. He was going for three straight on Friday night and perhaps eight points in 24 seconds in the second half was the dagger.
With the Bison leading 54-48, Cameron Hunter’s 3-pointer coincided with a flagrant foul underneath on Fort Wayne. Sam Griesel made both free throws and the Bison still retained possession by rule because of the foul. Tyson Ward made it hurt with a 3-point field goal and it was 62-48 with just over 11 minutes remaining.
“That was tough to swallow,” Coffman said. “That’s eight points. It’s huge. It turned the game.”
The Bison made two attempts at an early knockout on the Mastodons in the first half. The first came in the first three minutes when they took an 8-0 lead. The second came in the closing seconds of the half when Vinnie Shahid’s three-point play gave NDSU a 43-30 lead.
But Fort Wayne’s Marcus DeBerry canned a 3-pointer at the horn from just inside the halfcourt line and instead of a 13-point cushion, it was 10.
The Mastodons weren’t done. They scored the first eight points of the second half and what once was looking like a blowout was suddenly a close game at 43-41.
NDSU held the fort, however.
Leading 45-44, Rocky Kreuser started the decisive run with a three-point play with 15:09 left. By the time Ward hit a long 3-pointer with 11:11 remaining, it was 62-48.
Then the Bison went cold going almost five minutes without a point. Kreuser ended the spell with another three-point play and it was still 65-54.
“I thought Rocky showed some tremendous leadership,” said Bison head coach Dave Richman. “I wasn’t pleased with our focus at the start of the second half and Rocky carried us. That’s the team we’re capable of, we have the ability to flip the switch. I’d like to stress to these guys that we need to keep the switch on so it doesn’t have to be flipped.”
Shahid added 19 points and five assists. NDSU had the better of life underneath outrebounding the Mastodons 40-29, including 13 offensive rebounds.
Coffman said that was also a major difference.
“I’m going to miss those,” Richman said of the Fort Wayne games in Fargo. “There’s no natural rivalry by location but we’ve had some battles.”
PFW (12-15, 5-7 Summit): Carl 7-8 2-7 16, Holba 4-5 3-3 13, Godfrey 9-18 0-0 20, Patrick 1-7 3-4 5, Billups 2-8 0-0 4, Black 2-5 1-2 5, Benford 1-1 0-0 2, DeBerry 1-2 0-0 3, Rollins 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 28-57 9-16 70.
NDSU (19-7, 10-2 Summit): Kreuser 4-8 4-4 13, Shahid 7-20 4-5 19, Eady 2-6 1-2 7, Samuelson 1-3 0-0 3, Ward 7-13 4-4 22, Griesel 2-6 4-4 8, Hunter 1-4 3-4 6, Witz 0-0 2-2 2, Quayle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-60 22-25 80.
Halftime: NDSU 43, PFW 33. Total fouls: PFW 16, NDSU 21. Fouled out: Patrick. Rebounds: PFW 28 (Carl 8); NDSU 40 (Ward 10). 3-point goals: PFW 5-18 (Holba 2-3, Godfrey 2-5, Patrick 0-3, Billups 0-3, DeBerry 1-3, Rollins 0-1); NDSU 10-29 (Kreuser 1-4, Shahid 1-6, Eady 2-5, Samuelson 1-3, Ward 4-5, Griesel 0-2, Hunter 1-4). Assists: PFW 11 (Godfrey 4); NDSU 12 (Ward 6). Turnovers: PFW 10 (Godfrey 5); NDSU 8 (Ward 4). A-2,596.