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Bison men start fast, cruise to victory against Western Illinois

North Dakota State's Tyson Ward drives to the basket against Western Illinois' Isaac Johnson at the Scheels Center on Thursday. David Samson / The Forum1 / 4
North Dakota State's Jared Samuelson pulls down a rebound between Western Illinois' Kobe Webster and teammate Vinnie Shahid at the Scheels Center on Thursday. David Samson / The Forum2 / 4
North Dakota State's Deng Geu shoots over Western Illinois' Jordan Hughes at the Scheels Center on Thursday. David Samson / The Forum3 / 4
North Dakota State's Sam Griesel drives against Western Illinois' Ben Pyle at the Scheels Center on Thursday. David Samson / The Forum4 / 4

FARGO - North Dakota State junior Tyson Ward is leading the Bison in scoring and rebounding in Summit League men's basketball games this season. NDSU head coach David Richman, however, challenged Ward despite the solid individual league statistics.

"I said these are all-conference type numbers except for what?" Richman said. "I said you're not looking big enough at the scope of the page. We're 1-2 (in the league) right now. No one is going to vote somebody all-conference on a losing team."

Ward responded with 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bison to an 85-69 victory against Western Illinois on Thursday, Jan. 10, in Summit men's basketball at Scheels Center at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex before 2,461 fans.

NDSU (8-10, 2-2 Summit) got back to .500 in the league after losing its two previous Summit League games.

"It's a big game," Ward said. "It's a good win to chalk up."

Ward was efficient and productive against Western Illinois, shooting 58 percent (7 of 12) from the field in 29 minutes. The 6-foot-6 forward also had three assists to go along with his game-high rebound total. The Bison had six players score in double digits, including Ward.

Ward said he fed off his teammates' energy.

"When that gets going, anyone can go crazy," Ward said.

The Bison started the second half with a 14-4 run that put the game out of reach for the Leathernecks. Ward scored nine points during that stretch, including a tip dunk that gave the Bison a 48-31 lead with 16 minutes, 18 seconds to play in the second half.

Ward capped the surge with a free throw that gave the Bison a 54-33 lead with 13:49 remaining.

"I'm really, really proud of our guys," said Richman, whose team was coming off conference losses against Omaha and Purdue Fort Wayne.

The Bison had six players score between 11 and 17 points against Western Illinois. Freshman guard Sam Griesel scored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field. The 6-foot-6 Griesel added three rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes.

"I think we came out with a lot of energy," Griesel said. "We came out firing on all cylinders, a lot of emotion."

Sophomore forward Rocky Kreuser fueled that NDSU emotion early in the game. He made his first three shots from the field. The 6-foot-10 Kreuser scored the first eight points, including two 3-pointers, in a string of 11 consecutive NDSU points. Kreuser finished with 13 points and three rebounds.

"Rocky Kreuser is a really, really good player," Richman said. "Sometimes I see that more than he does."

Junior guard Jared Samuelson capped that early surge with a 3-pointer that gave the Bison an 11-3 lead with 16:46 to play in the first half.

Junior forward Deng Geu helped the Bison maintain and add to that first-half lead, scoring 11 points off the bench in the opening 20 minutes. Geu sank a 3-pointer that gave NDSU a 40-26 lead with 1:35 to play until halftime. The Bison shot 52 percent (17 of 33) from the floor in the opening half, taking a 40-29 lead into halftime.

Geu finished with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the floor and also grabbed six rebounds. Richman liked the way his team defended, rebounded and spread around the scoring.

"I think the one thing I like is the overall," Richman said. "That is a Bison-type game right there."

WIU (6-11, 1-3 Summit): Pyle 2-7 0-0 5, Gilbeck 3-7 2-3 8, Webster 7-16 0-0 17, Johnson 5-18 3-3 15, Duff 1-5 0-0 3, Young 2-4 3-3- 8, Little 0-0 0-0 0, Usiosefe 3-7 2-2 9, Claar 2-2 0-0 4, Maas 0-0 0-0 0, Hughes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-66 10-11 69.

NDSU (8-10, 2-2): Griesel 5-6 0-0 12, Kreuser 4-8 2-2 13, Shahid 5-15 2-2 13, Samuelson 3-5 2-2 11, Ward 7-12 3-4 17, Knotek 0-1 0-0 0, Eady 1-2 0-0 3, Quayle 0-1 0-0 0, Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Geu 6-11 1-2 14, Horn 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 32-62 10-12 85.

Half: NDSU 40, WIU 29. 3-point goals: WIU 9-16 (Pyle 1-3, Webster 3-4, Johnson 2-3, Duff 1-2, Young 1-2, Usiosefe 1-2), NDSU 11-23 (Griesel 2-2, Kreuser 3-5, Shahid 1-6, Samuelson 3-5, Ward 0-1, Eady 1-1, Geu 1-3). Total fouls: WIU 12, NDSU 13. Rebounds: WIU 30 (Gilbeck 12), NDSU 43 (Ward 13). Assists: WIU 7 (Pyle 2, Usiosefe 2), NDSU 16 (Shahid 4). Turnovers: WIU 5 (Gilbeck 2), NDSU 9 (Griesel 3). A-2,461.

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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