Bison Men Go 2-0 At Home
NDSU defeats opponents with contrasting styles
Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 19:01
The NDSU men’s basketball team faced two conference opponents of opposite styles last week. Thursday, the Bison hosted Omaha, a team that averaged 83.3 points per game. Two days later, Western Illinois visited the Bison Sports Arena with its slow-paced and methodical offense. NDSU conquered both challenges, defeating Omaha 91-69 and WIU 65-52.
Thursday’s game saw the Bison jump out to a 10-2 lead and they never looked back. NDSU shut down Omaha’s hot offense while showing its own offensive production. Six Bison players scored in double digits while holding Omaha to its second lowest point total of the season.
“I thought we beat a team that had a lot of fight in them and that can really, really put the ball in the hoop in a hurry on you,” NDSU head coach Saul Phillips said. “Our transition (defense) was a big point of emphasis all week. You didn’t have to be real imaginative to come up with that game plan because of the way they play.”
NDSU was led by Taylor Braun’s 20 points, but it was the production off the bench that catapulted the Bison to the 91-69 win. Mike Felt notched 13 points off 3-of-4 shooting from three point land. Jordan Aaberg added eight points with 4-of-5 shooting in the paint.
Aaberg, battling several injuries during his career, has seen his offensive production increase this season.
“I’ve been trying to get more aggressive, especially when Marshall (Bjorklund) gets in foul trouble,” Aaberg said. “I want to go out there and contribute on both ends. I knew I had to step up and do as much as I could.”
NDSU had little time to rest as WIU brought a physical and grinding style of play to Fargo. A packed BSA of 4,284 fans watched a back-and-forth game that wasn’t decided until late in the second half.
“You could just feel the energy in the building ready to explode if we can get a dunk and to their credit, we couldn’t do that,” Phillips said.
The Bison held a 25-23 lead with four minutes remaining in the first half, but went three minutes without scoring as WIU went on a 7-0 run. A big three pointer from Lawrence Alexander and jumper from Braun knotted the score at 30 going into halftime.
“You can go four or five possessions without scoring against these guys and that can span over three, four minutes because of the long possessions they have,” Phillips said. “So to get some momentum going into the locker room was big.”
The second half saw 10 lead changes in the first five minutes of play. But the Bison slowly began pulling away after long gaps of scoring droughts from both teams in the defensive battle. NDSU built a 54-48 lead with five minutes remaining and held on from there for the 65-52 victory.
“Games against Western, they always feel a little different than any other team,” Braun said. “It was a fun game, a good atmosphere and how college basketball games should be played.”
NDSU’s record improves to 14-5 with the two wins. The Bison take their 3-1 Summit League record into three straight conference road games. The first of which comes against rival South Dakota State at 4 p.m. Saturday.