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Ward, Bison men top Oral Roberts in Summit League quarterfinal game

North Dakota State's Tyson Ward drives in for a layup against Oral Roberts' Kerwin Smith during Sunday's Summit League men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game in Sioux Falls, S.D. Dave Eggen / Inertia1 / 6
North Dakota State's Deng Geu, left, and Sam Griesel, right box out Oral Roberts' Emmanuel Nzekwesi during Sunday's Summit League men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game in Sioux Falls, S.D. Dave Eggen / Inertia2 / 6
North Dakota State's Vinnie Shahid bends around Oral Roberts' Kaelen Malone during Sunday's Summit League men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game in Sioux Falls, S.D. Dick Carlson / Inertia3 / 6
North Dakota State's Deng Geu throws down a dunk above Oral Roberts' Emmanuel Nzekwesi during Sunday's Summit League men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game in Sioux Falls, S.D. Dave Eggen / Inertia4 / 6
North Dakota State's Tyson Ward drives past Oral Roberts' Emmanuel Nzekwesi during Sunday's Summit League men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game in Sioux Falls, S.D. Dave Eggen / Inertia5 / 6
North Dakota State's Tyson Ward backs into Oral Roberts' Emmanuel Nzekwesi during Sunday's Summit League men's basketball tournament quarterfinal game in Sioux Falls, S.D. Dick Carlson / Inertia6 / 6

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Tyson Ward scored 25 points and Jared Samuelson added 15 as North Dakota State got an 86-73 win over Oral Roberts in the Summit League men’s basketball tournament quarterfinal game Sunday, March 11, at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

The Bison (16-15) erased a five-point halftime deficit and outscored Oral Roberts 43-25 in the second half to pull away. NDSU scored the first 15 points of the second half and never relinquished the lead once they got it at 50-48 on a pair of Ward free throws with 17 minutes, 16 seconds to play.

For as hot as Oral Roberts (11-21) was in the first half from the floor, they had trouble finding the basket in the second. After leading 48-43 at halftime, the Golden Eagles missed their first 17 shots in the second half and didn’t hit a field goal until Kevin Obaner scored to make it 67-58 with 6:57 to play.

The Golden Eagles were also just 8-16 from the line. Over that span, and NDSU went on a 24-8 run to easily take the lead.

While ORU shot just 20 percent the entire second half, the Bison built the lead to as many as 16 points. At one point late in the second half, Oral Roberts was just 1-for-20 from the field.

“In two decades of doing this, I can’t ever recall that,” Oral Roberts’ coach Paul Mills said about the 13-plus minute drought without a field goal.

The shooting slump by Oral Roberts was in direct contrast from their first half performance. The Golden Eagles literally couldn’t miss at the start. They hit their first 10 shots and raced to a 24-11 lead just six minutes into the game. Ten of the 24 points came easy for the Golden Eagles as they got 10 points in the paint including two easy dunks.

“They’ve got some long, strong athletic guys with great hands with a high-level of skill in the paint,” NDSU head coach David Richman said. “They have the ability to do those things, and they’ll do it. We knew that was going to be a challenge.”

Despite Oral Roberts shooting a blistering 67 percent in the first half and building a 13-point lead, NDSU stayed in it thanks to a barrage of 3-pointers. Cameron Hunter entered the game averaging 5.9 points per game, but the sophomore came off the bench and hit four 3-pointers in a row for the Bison in just over 90 seconds to help the Bison pull within 31-30 with eight minutes to play.

NDSU finished the half 9-for-16 from beyond the arc and momentarily took the lead when Jared Samuelson hit a 3-pointer for a 36-33. But Oral Roberts went on a 15-7 run to finish out the half and led by five at the break.

“My biggest fear going into this game is just what happened in the first half,” Richman said. “You got to get some miles on this group before they understand the moment. We were a little shell-shocked early and didn’t take the fight to them.”

Oral Roberts got the lead down to ten at 72-62 on a Kevin Obanor 3-pointer with just under four minutes to play. The Golden Eagles used a timeout and implemented a full course press to try and narrow the gap. They did get one backcourt steal as a result of the pressure, but NDSU went 6-for-10 from the free throw line during that stretch.

They eventually got the lead to 15 on a Vinnie Shahid 3-pointer with two minutes to play.

The Bison limited Oral Robert’s leading scorer, Emmanuel Nzekwesi, to just two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Kevin Obanor led the Golden Eagles with 23 points.

ORU (11-21): Obanor 5-13 12-15 23, Weaver 2-4 0-0 6, Smith 3-5 0-0 6, Lacis 2-3 0-0 6, Malone 4-9 0-0 9, Kearns 5-12 2-2 16, Saunders 2-5 1-2 5, Nzekwesi 1-6 0-4 2. Totals 24-57 (FG), 15-23 (FT).

NDSU (16-15): Kreuser 3-8 2-5 8, Shahid 2-4 4-4 8, Griesel 0-2 2-4 2, Samuelson 3-5 6-6 15, Ward 7-10 11-13 25, Eady 2-2 0-0 5, Quayle 0-0 0-0 0, Hunter 4-5 1-2 13, Geu 2-3 0-2 4, Horn 2-3 0-0 6. Totals 25-42 (FG), 26-36 (FT).

Halftime: ORU 48, NDSU 43. 3-point goals: ORU 10-24 (Kearns 4, Lacis 2, Weaver 2, Obanor 1, Malone 1), NDSU 10-20 (Hunter 4, Sameulson 3, Horn 2, Eady 1). Total fouls – ORU 22, NDSU 18. Fouled Out - Weaver (ORU). Rebounds: ORU 33 (Obanor 10), NDSU 28 (Kreuser 8). Assists: ORU 16 (Malone 8), NDSU 11 (Griesel 3, Eady 3). Turnovers: ORU 11, NDSU 9.