Fargo, ND – Today was the home opener for the Bison. They faced the Pacific Tigers from the West Coast Conference. The Tigers came into this game with a 0-1 record and the Bison came into the game with an 0-2 record. The Tigers jumped all over NDSU and dominated the first half. NDSU fought back into it in the second half. They showed signs of resilience and grit. Sam Hestreiter set a Bison record from beyond the arc. Ultimately, NDSU could not get a stop in the second half when they really needed it. The Bison will learn from this, continue to grow from the loss, and now they head to Indiana for a game vs. the Sycamores. Read below for much more info on today’s game vs. Pacific.
Next up the Bison play at Indiana State on Thursday and they host Crown College next Sunday.
HALFTIME Pacific: 45 NDSU: 29 FINAL Pacific: 91 NDSU: 86
FG%: 46.6 3FG%: 50 FT%: 80 TO: 19 ASST: 16, Rebound Battle: +14
Grant Nelson – 19 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 TO’s, 31:24 mins.
Andrew Morgan – 15 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 TO’s, 20:22 mins.
Luke Yoder – 4 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 3 TO’s, 28:55 mins.
Lance Waddles – 1 assist, 1 steal, 3 TO’s, 11:03 mins.
Boden Skunberg – 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 TO’s, 25:53 mins.
Joshua Streit -1 rebound, 12:23 mins.
Sam Hastreiter – 24 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 TO, 24:51 mins.
Tajavis Miller – 14 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 TO, 30:48 mins.
Damari Wheeler-Thomas – 3 points, 1 rebound, 3 TO’s, 10:25 mins.
Jacari White -1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 TO, 3:57 mins.
Bison vs. Tigers
-The Tigers were a very unselfish team that moved the ball and made the extra pass
-Pacific was athletic and aggressive off the bounce, put pressure, and gave problems to the Bison all game
-The Tigers came out with way more NRG & vigor to start the game
-The Tiger post-defense was very good in the first half. They fronted Nelson when he was attempting to post and the guards would dig on Morgan to force a pass. If they did not dig with a guard, they brought a double team. In the second half, they played more straight up and that is when Morgan started to shine.
-In the 2nd half, Pacific forced NDSU into a turnover with a 5-second call on a BLOB. You do not see this very often, especially in a D1 basketball game.
-The Bison had a great comeback in the 2nd half and they showed great fight, however, they could not get a big stop when they needed it.
-NDSU was sloppy with the ball again early in the game. They seemed like careless and thoughtless TO’s. The season is young, but they will have to figure out a way to start the game much more locked in.
–Donovan Williams & Tyler Beard were clutch and unstopable at times for the Tigers. Whenever the Bison made a run and closed the gap, one of these two players would make a play. It will be interesting to see how Williams and Beard do the rest of the year in the WCC. Both players are from Illinois, they were back in the Midwest today with snow on the ground, they might have felt like they were close to being back home compared to playing home games in northern California. Those two looked like DUDEs today.
-NDSU went to the bench really early by subbing in Streit and Hastreiter. Shortly after, the entire starting 5 was on the bench. Not long after, Richman did the line change and subbed 5 in and 5 out. That is something you do not see very often in D1 basketball, especially that early in the game. I am sure Richman was not happy with the sluggish start. At the time, the score was not even bad, so I am not entirely sure what he was upset about. Effort and decision-making had to be a big part of it Richman was not a happy man in the first half.
-The Bison moved the ball very well on offense at times but it seems like they rely too much on dribble penetration. There were very few screens set today unless it was in a set. I know that is the way many teams are playing these days. It just seems like the Bison could benefit from setting more screens to get guys open instead of always having to rely on a drive and kick.
-I liked that NDSU got the ball into the post. However, after Morgan or Nelson kicked it out, they never went back to them. After the initial post touch, they never seemed to reenter into the post. Nelson had a mismatch all game, but he never really got a good post touch because of the fronting defense. NDSU did try going high-low once, but Pacific took it away and they never went back to it. The Bison scored 86 points, so they did plenty of good things on offense, they just did not seem very persistent or determined to get the ball inside if they met much resistance.
-Throughout the game, Pacific would slap on the press and NDSU had little to no trouble with the pressure.
-The Bison shot 50% from beyond the arc. What does that tell you? Shoot more 3’s! Much of that does come from Hastreiter going 7-7 from deep. Either way, 50% from 3-point land is fantastic.
-I loved the aggressiveness in the 2nd half and how many FT’s the Bison shot. NDSU shot 21 free throws in the second half.
-There is no QUIT in this team! They fought tooth and nail to the end. It may have been an ugly first half but NDSU showed grit and toughness in the second half. It would have been easy to slow down, feel sorry for themselves, instead they fought back and made it interesting.
-Will NDSU keep the same starting lineup on Thursday? Miller maybe step in for Waddles? Keep Hastreiter coming off the bench as the big shooting threat? Will NDSU pick up it’s first win of the season on Thursday?
Grant Nelson – He recorded a double-double! Grant was 1-5 from 3pt land. In one of these games, he will get going from deep and things will get really scary very quickly. He proved again tonight that he is an elite rim protector. Nelson is an eraser! His long wingspan helps but his timing is amazing. I love that he can block these shots without committing fouls, it is truly an art form. Grant had nice scores on O-board putbacks, alley-oop finishes, and one of them was a highlight-type slam that will have to be added to the season highlight film. He showed great hustle when sprinting the floor for an easy catch and score. I wish Nelson would post a little harder or stay on the block and keep posting when he was fronted by the smaller defender. If he didn’t get the post entry right away, he abandoned the post and floated to the wing. That is what the Tigers wanted. I wonder why he does not set for ball screens? He would certainly be a threat pick-n-popping. With his long arms, he would be a real threat rolling to the basket as well. Maybe that will come as the season moves on. Grant did seem to disappear at times in this one. Nelson had a very nice game overall and he was far from perfect. For how early it is in the season, Grant has been good. Very soon we will be saying how “great” Nelson looks. He looks very promising for only being 3 games into the season. The sky is the limit!
Boden Skunberg – He had an off night from the field going 1-6 but Boden was 4-4 from the FT-line. I Like how NDSU posted Skunbergs up twice to start the second half. When Boden gets a small defender on him, this will be a nice wrinkle to throw at teams. Skunberg’s effort is always there and he seems to be a good leader. I loved the flair screen that he set for Hastreiter in the second half. He does need to do a better job of valuing the basketball.
Andrew Morgan – He was two boards away from a double-double. Those will be coming soon enough. I was really impressed with his effort on the O-boards. Morgan showed his strength and concentration when finishing against a double team at the rim. Andrew showed off his power and explosiveness with a pair of 2-handed rim-rocking dunks. When he was able to attack with just one defender on him, Andrew was almost unstoppable. When teams are digging at Morgan with a guard, I wish he would make a quick move before the help gets there. It seems like he waits for the help to come and then he just kicks it out to the open man on the perimeter. He did not set many ball screens today. Morgan had a tale of two halves tonight. He did not do much in the first and he was outstanding in the second. Morgan showed tonight that he has the ability to be one of the best posts in the Summit.
Lance Waddles – He started the game but did not get much playing time. He only logged 11:00 total minutes and 9 of those came in the first half. I was wondering if he was injured but I just think it was an off/bad night or he was in the doghouse with Richman. Maybe both?
Luke Yoder – He plays really hard and he gives full effort. In one of these games, Luke is going to get hot with his jumper. He did show a smooth runner from mid-lane. Yoder plays the role of a facilitator. He does not try to do too much and he is a game manager. He did pick up an offensive foul but I like that he was being aggressive.
Tajavis Miller – He dropped/dished 9 assists! Miller was only 4-11 shooting the ball, but he was instrumental in passing and moving the ball. He delivered lob passes, touch passes, and he threaded the needle when needed. I like his aggressiveness when going downhill and his willingness to make the extra pass. When Miller is attacking, his teammates know that they have to spot up and get ready for a shot. Miller started the second half and this was his best game of the young season. He got to the line because of his attacking and his effort on the glass was impressive. The future looks bright for young Mr. Miller!
Damari Wheeler-Thomas – He played 10 minutes and had 3 TO’s. Again, it is still early in the season and he might just be getting rid of the rust. His jump shot did look nice when he cashed in the triple from the corner. On defense, Damari got lost a few times watching the ball, and his man cut for easy looks. He also was sloppy with the rock when driving baseline, left his feet, and threw an errant pass. The good thing is, those mistakes are easily corrected.
Sam Hastreiter – He was the STAR in this game. The freshman set a Bison single-game record for 3-point makes without a miss. The Nebraska kid went 7-7 from beyond the arc! All of Hastreiter’s 3’s came off catch-n-shoot 3’s. All but one, came from spacing the floor, reacting to the D, and perfect timing. Sam is a pure shooter with great mechanics and excellent form. His 6’7″ height certainly helps with getting the shot off over defenders. One of those triples game off a flair screen that was set by Skunberg. Sam flaired perfectly and he showed textbook footwork. I hope they set more of these in the future. NDSU will be able to use Sam to stretch the floor now and to keep attention off the BIGs in the post. Hastreiter had a memorable performance! It will be interesting to see how Indian State guards Sam on Thursday.