Shooting struggles hamper Bison men's basketball team

Expecting some growing pains this season, North Dakota State's men's basketball team learned Saturday that it can't shoot poorly and win - especially against a team that has already beaten perennial power Utah.

Saul Phillips
North Dakota State University Bison basketball coach Saul Phillips takes a look toward the crowd against a section of yellow-wearing students during the Saturday game against Idaho in the Bison Sports Arena. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Expecting some growing pains this season, North Dakota State's men's basketball team learned Saturday that it can't shoot poorly and win - especially against a team that has already beaten perennial power Utah.

Idaho used its experience to hold off the young and pesky Bison for an 81-69 win before 3,247 fans at the Bison Sports Arena.

The difference? Idaho shot 57 percent while the Bison shot 32 percent.

"We played good enough, we just didn't make the shots," said sophomore forward Eric Carlson, who led the Bison with 17 points.

"Thirty-two percent shooting? We couldn't afford that," said Bison head coach Saul Phillips. "That's an NCAA tournament caliber team we lost to. We got beat by an old, experienced team."


That experienced team opened its season last week with a 94-87 win at Utah, the first time Idaho beat the Utes since 1938. Coming off a disappointing 72-65 loss at Texas Southern, Idaho prepared all week to get back on the winning track.

The Vandals did it with a 7-0 run in the first two minutes of the second half, expanding a 39-36 halftime lead to 46-36. It was too much of a hole for the Bison, who despite trailing by a many as 13 points, managed to cut the lead to six points twice.

"We set ourselves back during that stretch," Carlson said.

Idaho was led by three transfers. Guard Steffan Johnson, a transfer from Pacific, had 19 points. Forward Luiz Toledo, a Brazilian transfer, had 18 points. Guard Mac Hopson, a Washington State transfer who was a first-team All Western Athletic Conference player last year, had 16 points.

"I thought we came out with a lot of energy in the second half and broke the game open," said Idaho coach Don Verlin, who was impressed with the Bison even though they lost four starters from last year's NCAA tournament team. "Even without those guys, they are hard to play. They are a good, solid basketball team."

Phillips said his team was indeed solid with plenty of hustle, getting outrebounded only 41-38 and committing only eight turnovers. But it was the 32 percent shooting - and only 5 of 23 from 3-point land - that hurt the Bison.

"Our reliance on jump shooting got us beat," said Phillips, whose team falls to 1-2. "That's a team that would compete for The Summit League championship. That's the gap we have to make up by the time we start playing the elite teams in our league."

The Bison did show some good signs.


Dejuan Flowers pulled down 10 rebounds. Carlson powered his way inside for his 17 points and eight rebounds. Michael Tveidt, who sat the final five minutes of the first half with two fouls, ended up with 11 points and nine rebounds. And true freshmen Jordan Aaberg, Mike Felt and Nate Zastrow combined for 20 points.

"I think we are taking big strides," Carlson said. "If we keep getting better like this, we'll be in good shape."

UI (2-1 overall record): Toledo 8-11 2-6 18, Jefferson 2-5 0-0 4, Hopson 6-11 3-4 16, Johnson 6-9 4-4 19, Watson 4-7 0-0 8, Stern 0-0 0-0 0, Ledbetter 2-5 0-0 5, Henderson 2-3 0-0 4, DeSouza 1-2 2-2 5, Lawrence 0-1 0-0 0, Barone 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 32-56 (FG), 11-16 (FT).

NDSU (1-2 overall record): Flowers 3-11 2-2 8, Tveidt 4-14 2-2 11, Carlson 5-12 7-11 17, Sussenguth 0-0 1-2 1, Vaughan 5-18 1-1 12, Felt 2-4 0-0 6, Zastrow 2-8 0-0 5, Pennick 0-3 0-0 0, Aaberg 4-6 1-1 9. Totals: 25-76 (FG), 14-19 (FT).

Halftime: IU 39, NDSU 36. Total fouls: UI 16, NDSU 19. 3-point goals: UI 6-13 (Hopson 1-3, Johnson 3-4, Ledbetter 1-3, DeSouza 1-2, Lawrence 0-1), NDSU 5-23 (Tveidt 1-6, Vaughan 1-9, Felt 2-4, Zastrow 1-4). Rebounds: UI 41 (Jefferson 9, Toledo 8, Barone 7), NDSU 38 (Flowers 10, Tveidt 9, Carlson 8). Assists: UI 18 (Hopson 8, Johnson 6), NDSU 8 (Vaughan 3). Steals: UI 5 (Johnson 3), NDSU 9 (Vaughan 4, Carlson 3). Turnovers: UI 16 (Toledo 4), NDSU 8 (Flowers 3). A-3,247.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

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