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Flat first half against Pacific costly for Bison men in loss

North Dakota State falls to 0-3 with home non-conference loss to West Coast Conference team

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FARGO — Losing to Arkansas and Kansas is one thing, dropping a home game against a West Coast Conference foe that North Dakota State handled on the road last year is another. The University of Pacific even did it without its head coach, who was home sick.

The Tigers left their California campus at 4 a.m. on Saturday for the Sacramento-to-Minneapolis-to-Fargo trip. They looked fresh as a team that drove from West Fargo to Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex on Sunday afternoon in grabbing an 18-point lead, then held on to defeat the Bison 91-86.

“Certainly disappointed,” said NDSU head coach Dave Richman. “An effort, an outing like that is 100% on my shoulders and you have my word we’ll continue to get better. I knew there would be some days like this with this group, part of the challenges and the growth in the journey.”

NDSU welcomed freshman forward Sam Hastreiter to college basketball with his 24 points, including making all seven of his 3-point attempts. The Bison played a much better second half, but the result still left them 0-3.

Kansas and Arkansas are nationally ranked. Pacific is not, but at times looked like it in the first half.

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“We just didn’t come out ready to play,” said Hastreiter, from Lincoln, Neb. “We’re being aggressive.”

Down 8-2 at the outset, Richman took a rare time out with the game just over three minutes old and 42 seconds before the start of a mandatory media time out. Whatever he was sensing in his team played out in the first half.

The Tigers ripped off a 14-3 run in a span of 3½ minutes to take a 39-24 lead. They were 16 of 26 from the field at that point and already had six steals, including four by 6-2 guard Tyler Beard.

“I just didn’t like our defensive urgency,” Richman said. “I thought we were tentative offensively with some things, to me those words coincide with being soft.”

They took a 45-29 lead into the halftime locker room with the Bison facing more questions than just a 16-point deficit, like finding a combination that consistently worked on the floor. There were the issues of 12 turnovers and 37% shooting.

It was a needed break. The Bison chipped away at a deficit that reached 18 points early in the second half by playing better defense and being more aggressive to the hoop. Andrew Morgan’s dunk made it a 60-53 game, forcing a Pacific time out at the 13-minute mark.

NDSU got within three on two occasions, the latter stymied by a four-point play by Pacific’s Donovan Williams, who was fouled while making a 3-pointer.

Tajavis Miller’s 3-pointer with four seconds left got the Bison back within three. But Jordan Ivy-Curry sealed it with two free throws. Ivy-Curry made six straight from the line in the final 29 seconds.

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NDSU outscored the Tigers 57-46 in the final 20 minutes, although that didn’t help Richman’s post-game mood much.

“I don’t fall into things like that,” he said. “They changed their gameplan a little bit in the second half because of the lead. We have to learn how to win and to win at this level you have to be able to execute for 40 (minutes).”

Grant Nelson added 19 points and 12 rebounds and Morgan had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Hastreiter finished 7 of 8 from the field.

“Teammates were finding me in rhythm,” Hastreiter said.

Miller almost matched Nelson with a double-double with 14 points and 9 assists. A young team, NDSU finished with 19 turnovers.

“These are Dave Richman problems,” said Richman, when asked about young team problems, “and I’m excited to work through it with these guys.”

Pacific was without its head coach, Leonard Perry. The Tigers play at the University of North Dakota on Wednesday in their first-ever trip to the state of North Dakota.

UP (1-1): Richards 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 7-14 2-4 17, Beard 7-11 7-8 21, Ivy-Curry 5-9 6-7 16, Avdalovic 2-6 0-0 5, Freeman 1-3 0-0 2, Martindale 4-6 0-0 10, Odum 0-1 0-0 0, Outlaw 4-9 0-0 10, Denson 2-2 1-2 5, Blake 1-2 3-4 5. Totals: 33-63 19-25 91.

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NDSU (0-3): Nelson 6-12 6-6 19, Morgan 7-9 1-3 15, Yoder 1-3 2-2 4, Waddles 0-4 0-0 0, Skunberg 1-6 4-4 7, Streit 0-1 0-0 0, Hastreiter 7-8 3-4 24, Miller 4-11 4-6 14, Wheeler-Thomas 1-2 0-0 3, White 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 27-58 20-25 86.

Halftime: UP 45, NDSU 29. Total fouls: UP 21, NDSU 19. Fouled out: Yoder. Rebounds: UP 26 (Beard, Freeman 4); NDSU 40 (Nelson 12). 3-point goals; UP 6-17 (Williams 1-3, Beard 0-3, Ivy-Curry 0-1, Avdalovic 1-2, Martindale 2-3, Outlaw 2-4, Blake 0-1); NDSU 12-24 (Nelson 1-5, Yoder 0-1, Waddles 0-2, Skunberg 1-2, Hastreiter 7-7, Miller 2-5, Wheeler-Thomas 1-1, White 0-1). Assists: UP 9 (Beard 4); NDSU 16 (Miller 9). Turnovers: UP 8 (Beard 4); NDSU 19 (four with 3). A-1,073.

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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