FARGO — North Dakota State inducted another member into its 1,000 career points men’s basketball club Thursday night. For a while in the home opener against Mayville State, it was looking like the Bison would need every one of Tyson Ward’s milestone hoops.
The shooting eye for the second straight game wasn’t all there until the second half, but the Bison didn’t need it in a 93-53 victory at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. It was the difference of playing at Kansas State on Tuesday compared to taking on Mayville in the regular season home opener.
The Bison shot 29 percent in a 67-54 loss to K-State, a game that NDSU considered winnable against a Big 12 Conference opponent. It took until midway in the second half before the Bison dialed it in from the perimeter against the Comets.
It was about that time during a timeout when NDSU fan and sophomore finance major Colton Wolbrink sank a 94-foot putt, the length of the court, to win Sandy’s Donuts for a year. It went through a small opening on a board that an NDSU staff member held up under the Bison basket.
“That was impressive,” Ward said. “I’m not supposed to be watching that stuff in the huddle but I watched it.”
Making the halftime promotional putt happened once before in 2018. Unlike that one, Wolbrink left no doubt with the speed of his putt.
“I’ve been told you don’t leave a putt short,” said NDSU head coach Dave Richman. “I heard he rammed it through. I’m a big proponent of Sandy’s … I hope he’s sharing.”
Uhhh ohh Happy (Colton) learned how to putt...With the @TigerWoods fist pump, Colton walked away with a years worth of @sandysdonuts by putting the ball in the hole from 94-feet. The second time he was just showing off. #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/Cc12dxN4II
Uhhh ohh Happy (Colton) learned how to putt...With the @TigerWoods fist pump, Colton walked away with a years worth of @sandysdonuts by putting the ball in the hole from 94-feet. The second time he was just showing off. #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/Cc12dxN4II— NDSU Athletics (@NDSUathletics) November 8, 2019
Ward has shared his role for four years, and that includes scoring. Now a senior from Tampa, Fla., he’s been consistent with his output in his career.
“It took me a while,” he said of the 1,000 points. “It’s an honor. God blessed me with a gift and happy to be able to do it.”
Ward had 17 of his 21 points in the first half when the NAIA Comets of the North Star Conference stayed with the Bison.
Vinnie Tyson— NDSU Basketball (@NDSUmbb) November 8, 2019
21 points for Mr. Ward after this dunk. pic.twitter.com/GzTFd6uC1F
The Comets came to Fargo with some momentum with four straight wins and having five players average between 11.8 and 13.4 points a game. The Bison took it to them right away by taking a 13-2 lead in the first seven minutes and it was looking like the typical Division I vs. NAIA blowout.
But the Comets didn’t back down.
“It seemed like we got back into our identity and that’s to push the pace,” said Mayville head coach Darren Tighe.
Showing good ball movement on offense, four straight 3-pointers from four different players got them within 24-23 at the 7:20 mark. NDSU, however, went on a 16-5 run to end the half and took a 44-32 lead into the locker room.
The Bison were just 1 of 10 from 3-point range but got 5 of 7 shooting each from Ward and teammate Sam Griesel.
“It’s not too big of a concern right now,” Richman said of his team’s shooting. “We didn’t shoot it great at Kansas State the other night, didn’t shoot it great to start the game. It’s something that’s on our radar but this is a team with a lot of shooters. It’s Nov. 7; I would be a little concerned if we were perfect right now."
The lead stretched to 18 in the first few minutes of the second half with Griesel and returning leading scorer Vinnie Shahid, who was bottled up on offense until that point, doing the damage.
“We think we’re pretty good defensively, but they abused us on the board,” Tighe said, referring to NDSU’s 45-25 rebounding advantage. “That’s an important part of defense.”
NDSU will get a few days to prepare for its first home Division I opponent, a 1 p.m. Veterans Day game at Scheels Center against California Poly.
MAYVILLE STATE (4-2): Cruz 1-3 0-0 3, Cooper 1-3 0-0 2, Franklin 3-9 0-0 6, Valverde 2-4 0-2 4, Melendez 1-5 0-0 3, Lawson 0-0 0-0 0, Ramirez 5-9 2-2 15, Schuster 3-3 0-0 8, Gieske 3-4 0-1 6, Wharry 3-9 0-0 6, Lisica 0-4 0-0 0, Kuntz 0-1 0-0 0, Bynum 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 22-56 2-5 53.
NDSU (1-1): Griesel 6-9 0-0 12, Kreuser 0-2 0-0 0, Shahid 2-7 1-1 6, Samuelson 1-4 0-0 3, Ward 7-12 7-7 21, Eady 6-9 0-0 13, Quayle 2-5 0-0 5, Hunter 3-6 0-0 8, Harden-Hayes 1-3 2-4 4, Witz 5-7 1-2 11, Knotek 2-3 0-0 5, Wilson IV 1-2 2-2 4. Totals: 36-69 13-16 93.
Halftime: NDSU 44, MSC 32. Total fouls: MSC 15, NDSU 6. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: MSC 25 (Cruz, Melendez 4); NDSU 45 (Griesel 10). 3-point goals: MSC 7-19 (Cruz 1-3, Franklin 0-1, Melendez 1-3, Ramirez 3-6, Schuster 2-2, Gieske 0-1, Wharry 0-1, Lisica 0-2); NDSU 8-23 (Griesel 0-1, Kreuser 0-2, Shahid 1-5, Samuelson 1-3, Eady 1-3, Quayle 1-1, Hunter 2-4, Knotek 2-3). Assists: MSC 9 (three with 2); NDSU 21 (Hunter 8). Turnovers: MSC 17 (Melendez 5): NDSU 9 (Kreuser, Harden-Hayes 2). A-1,770.