« NDSU Bison

Thoughts on North Dakota State University's 70-69 Loss To The University of Southern Mississippi

by Dan Gunderson

Pre-Game

· Good atmosphere at the BSA. Filled up well before tip-off, which now means I will be sitting and sweating at the BSA for this entire game. Climate of this arena depends on the amount of people that fill it up.

· One of the refs for tonight’s game, John Higgins, was a ref for last season’s national title game. It is the small facts that make this whole thing worth it.

· I’ve been to only a handful of games at the BSA where I thought the crowd would actually have an impact on the game. I’m adding tonight’s game to that list.

First Half

· Game started out w/ NDSU forcing a handful of turnovers. USM did not score a point until the 15:27 mark of the first half.

· NDSU shooting woes continue. They started out the half 1-10 from three.

· That first three, in fact, come during an opening 11-2 run for NDSU to start the half.

· USM started to come back. They played a 2-3 zone, which started to give NDSU issues later in the first half.

· It was the full court pressure that threw NDSU. USM played a 2-1-2 full court press with a run-and-jump trap once the ball handler crossed the half court.

· With 8:22 to go in the first half, NDSU’s Marshall Bjorklund hit a jumper to make it 20-16 NDSU. That would be the last field goal NDSU scored for seven minutes.

· In that time period, NDSU saw USM go from down four to up 14 at 36-22.

· USM caused 12 first half turnovers and shot 52 percent from the field.

· USM also caused a ton of frustration with NDSU’s star Taylor Braun. Braun had two turnovers in the back court where he over threw a teammate.

· On the second one, he simply turned to the bench and started walking off the court. Head coach Saul Phillips sub in LA at this point.

· Felt and Braun hit back-to-back threes to end the half to ensure NDSU wasn’t totally buried but they still trailed 39-28 going into the locker room.

· NDSU’s shooting was woeful in the first half. The Bison shot 25 percent from three and 38 percent from the field.

· They were also out rebounded 15-10 by USM.

· The problems that NDSU encountered in their loss to St. Mary’s are resurfacing against Southern Mississippi. Poor outside shooting, lack of bench production and being out rebounded. Add turnovers on top of that and you are not going to win a lot of ball games.

 

Second Half

· NDSU came out of the gate on fire, going on an 11-0 run to tie things up at 39 apiece.

· The Bison and the Golden Eagles continue to trade buckets. USM will pull ahead by four and NDSU will come right back.

· TrayVonn Wright is not human. He had a dunk where is chin was above the rim. I kid you not.

· Taylor Braun has become a facilitator in the second half. He ended the game with 11 assists and 11 points. Most of those assists came in the second half.

· NDSU never got a lead throughout the entire half. Kept tying up the game, but could never gain an advantage.

· Marshal Bjorklund had nine points but look at his rebounding numbers. One rebound is not going to cut it. The guy needs to be a 14 points and eight boards kind of guy.

· I would of like to have seen more out of the bench in the second half. Felt starting dropping threes but Chris Kading and Jordan Aaberg combined for two points, two rebounds and six fouls in 25 minutes. Essentially, your three tallest players combined for three rebounds. Cannot happen.

· Turnovers went away in the second half for the most part. The Bison had five second half turnovers.

· We must discuss the last play of the game. NDSU had set up, what looked like, some kind of hook and latter. Get it in to TrayVonn Wright at midcourt and see if he can get it to Felt or Braun. Option wasn’t there, so Wright tried to dribble it up the court and had it taken away from him.

· NDSU is now 1-2 overall after the 70-69 loss to USM. They have yet to beat a Division I team this season.

Post-Game

· TrayVonn Wright talked about the shots NDSU hit before the half as a much needed wake up call to let the team know that all we have to do to stay in this game is catch the ball.

· Head coach Saul Phillips was very fired up. He feels this team is right there and if it wasn’t for that 20-2 stretch where NDSU turned the ball over seven times in nine possessions, this game could have been differently

· Jack Michaels, the KFGO Sports Director, sat next to me most of the night and at the end of the game said that you can’t miss free throws down the stretch and you can’t give up offensive boards. NDSU did both down the stretch, including a chance for Mike Felt to take the lead when he had three free throws but only made two late.

· For me, I go back to that seven minute stretch where NDSU looked lost offensively. NDSU showed a lot of toughness getting back into the game after that stretch. A lesser team would have folded up shop. Still, that won the game for USM. NDSU was never able to retake the lead after that run.

· NDSU now takes on Western Michigan on the road and follows that up with a road date against the University of North Dakota.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.