FARGO — After watching an 18-point lead shrink to four in the closing minutes, Vinnie Shahid delivered the biggest moment of an excellent performance to pull the North Dakota State men's basketball team out of a tailspin Saturday night.
Shahid led all scorers with 19 points, with his two most important coming with just over a minute to play, when he hit a clutch jumper to snap a nearly seven-minute field goal drought and spring the Bison to a 74-67 win over Missouri State at the Scheels Center.
Things appeared to be all but wrapped up for the Bison with 8 minutes, 29 seconds to play, as a 10-0 run lifted them to a 64-46 lead.
But a hot-shooting offense neutralized itself with several careless giveaways, as 19 NDSU turnovers helped the the Bears cut the deficit to 69-65.
Missouri State looked to be in position to force another turnover, when a cutting Shahid lost control of the ball. But before a charging Tulio Da Silva could corral it and break up court, Shahid brought the ball back into his possession, then fired a shot over defender Obediah Church with just four seconds left on the shot clock, hitting the only Bison field goal in the final eight-and-a-half minutes.
"The one and the five switched on the ball screen up top. I was just trying to take advantage of a mismatch," Shahid said. "It dribbled off my foot, not what I expected it to do, (but I) caught the ball and saw my shot when I shot it."
Shahid added his final points from the foul line on the ensuing possession, pushing the lead back to six following a Bear basket.
Bison head coach David Richman says Shahid, a junior college transfer in his first year with the Bison program, is quickly developing a knack for making big plays in big moments.
"Vinnie's a playmaker," Richman said. "He continues to get more and more comfortable. The kid just makes big plays and he was able to do that for us tonight."
Rocky Kreuser and Jared Samuelson also scored in double figures with 10 points each for the Bison. After being held out as a coach's decision last Saturday, Tyson Ward came off the bench and added nine points and a game-high six rebounds.
Though happy with the win, players and coaches were not pleased with all aspects of Saturday's performance, with their chief complaint being that they had 11 more turnovers than assists.
They did however, see the benefit of winning on a night when they didn't play their best, something they expect to benefit this young squad going forward.
"You learn how important it is to be able to step on someone's throat and finish the game off," Samuelson said. "Make an 18 (point lead) to a 26-point lead instead of breathing life back into them. Hopefully next time we're in the same situation we'll build on that lead instead of letting it shrink."
"There's some great learning opportunities for us," Richman added. "When we're up 18, we talked about twisting the knife and we weren't able to do that. But I'm proud of our guys for hanging on and getting the victory."
The 4-7 Bison get just one day off before returning to action Monday, with an 8 p.m. game at Montana.
MSU (4-6): Church 3-5 0-0 6 Da Silva 5-9 1-2 11, Cook 3-7 3-4 10, Dixon 6-13 0-0 13, Kreklow 1-3 0-0 3, Webster 4-12 2-2 10, S. Wojcik 2-3 0-0 4, J. Wojcik 0-0 0-0 0, Mohammed 0-0 0-0 0, Ridder 4-12 0-2 10. Totals: 28-67 6-10 67.
NDSU (4-7): Eady 3-3 1-1 8, Kreuser 2-8 5-7 10, Shahid 5-8 8-9 19, Samuelson 3-4 1-2 10, Quayle 2-4 2-2 6, Knotek 0-0 0-0 0, Geu 0-2 5-7 5, Ward 4-6 1-4 9,m Horn 3-5 0-0 7, . Totals 22-40 23-32 74.
Halftime: NDSU 35, MSU 30. Total fouls: MSU 23, NDSU 14. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: MSU 30 (Cook 6); NDSU 33 (Ward 6). 3-point goals: MSU 5-24 (Ridder 2-9, Dixon 1-6, Cook 1-2, Kreklow 1-2, Webster 0-3, Da Silva 0-1, S. Wojcik 0-1); NDSU 7-16 (Samuelson 3-4, Kreuser 1-4, Shahid 1-3, Horn 1-2, Eady 1-1 Quayle 0-2). Assists: MSU 13 (Webster 5); NDSU 8 (Two with 2). Turnovers: MSU 10 (Two with 3); NDSU 19 (three with 4). A-1,942.