FARGO — As if the immediate shock of David Jenkins Jr.’s game-winning halfcourt shot wasn’t enough, the North Dakota State men’s basketball players either had to shut their phones or TVs off or endure that feeling countless times again. The dramatic bank shot on Saturday was not only No. 2 on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 plays of the day, but social media had a heyday with it, also.
Monday morning, the Bison players and coaches met for the first time since South Dakota State took a 78-77 win at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. Adding insult to injury, the Bison led the game for 39 minutes, 59.5 seconds.
That half a second was a killer.
“It’s a cruel and beautiful sport in the same breath,” said NDSU head coach Dave Richman.
Like most teams, NDSU has a 24-hour rule to either celebrate a win or get over a loss, but not dwelling on the latter may be a challenging. Richman, speaking minutes after the Monday meeting ended, said he was satisfied with his team’s mentality.
“Yeah, everybody showed up,” he joked, before not joking. “If you pour so much into it, you better be bothered by it and hurt by it. But I saw a lot of head nodding when we talked about learning and moving forward. This group has learned so much in the last five, six weeks.”
Basketball is like a lot of sports in that regard. Take golf, for example.
“One minute you birdie, the next minute you double bogey,” Richman said.
It’s debatable if NDSU having to wait a week to swing a club on the basketball court is a good thing or a bad thing. The Bison host Nebraska-Omaha Saturday afternoon at 4 in the final regular-season home game this season.
Richman said practices early in the week will focus on “us.” Preparation for the Mavericks won’t start until later.
The Bison went through a similar situation last year when Oral Roberts hit a game-winning shot from the deep corner, a play by ORU’s Austin Ruder with Tyson Ward all over him that won the game 67-66 in overtime.
NDSU lost four of its final five Summit League games after that.
This year, the Bison have already clinched at least the No. 4 seed at 8-5 with three games to play. ORU is fifth at 6-8. The Golden Eagles have games at Western Illinois and at home against Omaha remaining.
After Omaha, NDSU hits the road at South Dakota and at Purdue-Fort Wayne. If NDSU and ORU tie, the Bison own the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping the season series. This week, however, is all about maintaining NDSU’s fine play of late.
“The big thing is how we move forward,” Richman said. “How much do we love the game? How much do we love each other? In so many ways this could galvanize this group going forward. … There are a lot of things that went on in that game down the stretch that we have to learn from, be better from. At the same time, it’s over and we need to move on.”