Morgan records double-double as the Bison snap 3-game skid against SDSU
Andrew Morgan tallied a season-high 24 points and 13 rebounds to pace NDSU at Scheels Center on Thursday night
FARGO — The Bison faithful who are either staying in Fargo or have not yet departed for Frisco, Texas, were treated to another great game between the North Dakota State and South Dakota State men's basketball teams on Thursday night.
Andrew Morgan kicked off a massive rivalry week for NDSU in a big way. The sophomore forward recorded a double-double en route to a 65-59 win over the Jackrabbits at Scheels Center.
Morgan tallied a season-high 24 points and 13 rebounds, helping the Bison snap a three-game losing streak against SDSU after battling back from a couple of late-game deficits.
"That's just the confidence inside of us," Morgan said. "We've been put in situations like that in practice and in game situations where (a team) is up a certain amount and so that didn't really didn't seem to phase us. We were confident in ourselves and we knew we could make the free throws if we made it to the line and we were confident in our offense to get it done too."
"That's a big time game from that young man," NDSU head coach David Richman said. "There's some tremendous challenges with Andrew but there's some great rewards. I'll take those challenges any day to experience the rewards of that locker room with Andrew and our entire team."
Richman said his young squad's effort against their rivals was stellar.
"I'm really pleased," Richman said. "I've got a ton of respect for that program obviously and just the way they do things, not just what they do but how they do it.
"I'm not a fan of using the words 'war' or 'battle' in terms of playing college basketball, because what we're doing is clearly way less significant than war. But we've used the term conflict. And when you talk about being tough and together, you welcome together. It might not have been pretty to some because of the missed shots at times, but to me — especially sitting here with a six-point victory against a team like that — it feels good and it's something that we can continue to build off of."
The Bison were down by as many as nine points in the first half before rallying to tie the game at 21-all with 5:23 remaining on a layup from junior guard Boden Skunberg, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
A layup from junior guard Luke Yoder on the next Bison possession gave the home team its first lead and capped off an 8-0 scoring run. The Jacks responded with a bucket from junior guard Matt Mims and the two sides traded punches from there for a 27-27 deadlock at halftime.
While Morgan led the Bison statistically, it was junior forward Grant Nelson who perhaps shifted momentum for NDSU in the second half. A slam dunk from the Devils Lake native with 12:18 to play tied the game at 37-37 and brought the Scheels Center crowd to its feet.
"I just saw a gap, punched that gap and there happened to be someone in the lane," Nelson said of the momentum-swinging play.
Later on, down three points with 4:29 to play, Nelson hit a layup and on the next possession, drained a wing triple to make it 56-54 with 3:44 to go. That put the Bison in the lead for good.
Down 62-59 with 40 seconds left, SDSU sophomore guard Zeke Mayo's 3-point attempt to tie rimmed out. The Jacks got the rebound, but a layup from Mayo wouldn't fall either, with the Bison grabbing the rebound and SDSU fouling Nelson to send him to the line. Nelson sank one free throw in the double-bonus, while sophomore guard Jacari White hit two more down the stretch to ice it.
With the win, the Bison improved to 5-11 overall and 2-2 in Summit League play.
"It's just another win in conference play which we needed," Nelson said. "Moving forward, we're going to continue to do what we did (tonight) and stay locked in for 40 (minutes)."
The Jacks fell to 7-9 overall and 2-2 in conference.
North Dakota State finished 26-of-59 shooting for 44 percent. The Bison were 4-of-19 from range and 9-of-12 at the free throw line.
The Jackrabbits went 23-of-57 for just over 40 percent from the field, including 6-of-24 from beyond the arc and 7-of-9 at the stripe.
Nelson's big second half capped a 17-point night to go with eight rebounds and two assists. Skunberg finished with 10 points, eight boards and one assist.
SDSU had three players in double-digit scoring, led by Mayo — last week's Summit League Peak Performer of the Week — with 13 points, four rebounds and seven assists. Senior forward Matt Dentlinger added 12 points and six rebounds, while freshman forward William Kyle III chipped in six points and six boards.
North Dakota State returns to Scheels Center on Saturday to host the University of South Dakota (8-8, 3-1 Summit League) in another Summit League tilt. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.
After a less-than-ideal start to the season, Richman is hoping Thursday's win over the Jacks is a confidence booster moving forward.
"I challenged the guys all week — is success going to handle us, or are we going to handle success?," Richman said. "And we've had some moments where we haven't. I hope you're starting to see some things build for what I always saw a little bit with this vision of what this team could be."
SDSU (7-9): Mayo 5-17 3-3 13, Dentlinger 5-8 0-0 12, Mors 4-12 0-0 10, Lien 3-11 1-2 8, Kyle III 3-5 0-0 6, Mims 2-2 0-0 5, Arians 1-2 3-4 5, Te Slaa 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-57 7-9 59.
NDSU (5-11): Morgan 10-15 3-4 24, Nelson 7-16 2-4 17, Skunberg 5-9 0-0 10, White 1-9 4-4 7, Thomas-Wheeler 2-6 0-0 5, Yoder 1-1 0-0 2, Waddles 0-2 0-0 0, Hastreiter 0-1 0-0 0, Streit 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-59 9-12 65.
Halftime: NDSU 27, UM 27. Total fouls: SDSU 14, NDSU 10. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: SDSU 28 (Dentlinger, Kyle III 6); NDSU 40 (Morgan 13). 3-point goals: SDSU 6-24 (Dentlinger 2-3, Mors 2-8, Mims 1-1, Lien 1-7, Mayo 0-5); NDSU 4-19 (Morgan 1-1, Wheeler-Thomas 1-3, Nelson 1-6, White 1-6, Hastreiter 0-1, Waddles 0-2). Assists: SDSU 10 (Mayo 7); NDSU 10 (Morgan 3). Turnovers: SDSU 6 (Arians 3); NDSU 9 (Morgan 3). A-1,653.