Four Bison players hit double digits in men's basketball win over South Dakota
North Dakota State ended the game on a 15-2 run to regain the lead for good and earn its third straight victory
FARGO — North Dakota State was coming off back-to-back wins for the first time this season entering Saturday's matinee contest with South Dakota.
Those two wins came over rivals North Dakota and South Dakota State, and the Bison rode that momentum to a 73-61 victory over the Coyotes at Scheels Center.
Sophomore guard Jacari White led the Bison with 18 points, including 5-of-9 shooting from range. NDSU improved to 6-11 overall and 3-2 in Summit League play.
Offensive wealth was spread around with three other Bison players finishing in double digits — freshman guard Damari Wheeler-Thomas with 17 points, junior forward Grant Nelson with 15 and junior guard Boden Skunberg with 12.
After the Bison began the game on a 12-2 run and held the lead for much of the first half, the Coyotes (8-9, 3-2 Summit League) stormed back with a 12-0 run to end the first half, taking their first lead since the opening possession on a triple from junior forward Tasos Kamateros to make it 26-25. The Coyotes led 33-25 at halftime.
In what was a game of runs, however, NDSU returned the favor at the end of the second half. A layup from Wheeler-Thomas with 4:57 to play began a 15-2 scoring run and gave the Bison a 60-59 lead that would hold up for good.
"I've been apart of a lot of games and could not be prouder of the group," NDSU head coach David Richman said. "I thought we were extremely soft, tired and fatigued at the end of the first half. I got into them at halftime and they responded in a terrific way."
Richman hinted at the idea that his underclassmen are starting to come into their own, crediting Wheeler-Thomas for a turnover-free night and White for a hot shooting performance.
"I don't like singling guys out, but when you have a point guard that plays over 33 minutes, has no turnovers and scores 17 ... you're starting to see some pieces click and it's really encouraging," Richman said. "It's only more encouraging if we continue to get better (at practice) on Monday."
White had a strong defensive performance, as well, collecting two defensive boards, making a steal and blocking two shots while trying to contain USD junior guard Kruz Perrott-Hunt, the Coyotes' leading scorer who is averaging 13.3 points per game and finished with 26 on Saturday. Perrott-Hunt went for 19 points in the first half alone before the Bison limited him to seven in the final 20 minutes.
"We just tried to limit his shots," White said. "We noticed his weakness in the second half and once we figured that out, we just kind of exploited it and I feel like we did a good job guarding him."
Skunberg picked up four rebounds, three assists and a steal to add to his 12-point night. He said nobody on the team was pleased with the first-half performance — shooting a dismal 35.7 percent — but the message was to regroup and recover.
"In the first half, we kind of came out stale but we grouped together at halftime and did a good job responding," Skunberg said. "We were all upset, but the message was to just stay together, keep playing together as a family and keep talking. We did that, we had fun and the outcome was in our favor."
The Bison shot significantly better in the second half to flip the switch, going 15-of-27 for 55.6 percent and finishing the game 25-of-55 for 45.5 percent.
USD finished 23-of-62 from the field for 37.1 percent. The Coyotes were 6-of-7 at the free throw line while the Bison went 14-of-20.
NDSU finished with 34 rebounds, led by sophomore forward Andrew Morgan with nine. The Coyotes picked up 36 rebounds with Kamateros and senior guard Mason Archambault collected seven apiece.
The 'Yotes Kamateros scored 16 points and sophomore guard A.J. Plitzuweit chipped in six.
NDSU begins a two-game road trip at Denver (10-8, 1-4 Summit League) on Thursday with tipoff set for 8 p.m.
Richman said carrying the momentum of a win streak into the rest of conference slate is about state of mind.
"We take the confidence," Richman said. "We take the validation of the process going forward. But what got us here was the grind, the work and the process."
USD (8-9): Perrott-Hunt 10-22 3-3 26, Kamateros 6-16 1-2 16, Plitzuweit 2-7 2-2, Bruns 2-5 0-0 5, Branch 2-4 0-0 5, Burchill 1-2 0-0 3, Hayes 0-2 0-0 0, Archambault 0-4 0-0 0, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-62 6-7 61.
NDSU (6-11): White 6-13 1-4 18, Wheeler-Thomas 4-9 9-10 17, Nelson 6-10 1-2 15, Skunberg 4-8 2-2 12, Morgan 2-9 1-2 5, Waddles 1-3 0-0 2, Yoder 1-1 0-0 2, Hastreiter 1-2 0-0 2, Streit 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-55 14-20 73.
Halftime: USD 33, NDSU 25. Total fouls: USD 16, NDSU 11. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: USD 36 (Kamateros, Archambault 7); NDSU 34 (Morgan 9). 3-point goals: USD 9-19 (Kamateros 3-6, Perrott-Hunt 3-3, Burchill 1-1, Bruns 1-3, Branch 1-2, Plitzuweit 0-2, Archambault 0-2); NDSU 9-20 (White 5-9, Nelson 2-4, Skunberg 2-5, Waddles 0-1, Hastreiter 0-1). Assists: USD 6 (Perrott-Hunt 3); NDSU 12 (Morgan, Skunberg 3). Turnovers: USD 11 (Plitzuweit 3); NDSU 7 (Nelson 3). A-1,702.