NDSU holds on to defeat Omaha despite late comeback attempt from Mavs

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Mitchell Cutcher
Sports Editor

Pictured: #5 Ja’Sean Grover. Photo courtesy Mark Kuhlmann.

The Mavericks would give it their all down the stretch but would fall short to North Dakota State. Omaha would cut the Bison’s lead down to seven at multiple points in the second half, but NDSU would keep the lead and win 78-65. 

Both teams came out of the gate with a clear game plan, drive the ball to the hoop. On Omaha’s first possession they went right at North Dakota State’s Grant Nelson, who had 23 blocks on the year entering the contest. The Mavericks showed early they were not backing down from the challenge that the Bisons’ front court provided. 

One player for Omaha who came into the game and made an instant impact was Ja’Sean Glover. Glover entered the game and on his first possession on the court was switched onto Grant Nelson and forced a miss from the big man. This was followed up by Glover knocking down a corner three on the offensive end. 

“He’s a competitor,” said Head Coach Chris Crutchfield on Ja’Sean Glover. “He’s a guy that he’s been getting in the gym every morning with Coach Brown, and putting in time and work to try and improve his skill. Now he’s playing with tremendous confidence.”

For the majority of the first half NDSU dominated the rebounds on their offensive end. The Bison would end the first half with eight offensive rebounds and four second chance points compared to Omaha’s two offensive rebounds and two second chance points. This was an area of the game that NDSU’s height down low did influence.

Omaha would end the first half with a lead of 29-28 after a JJ White layup with two seconds left on the clock. Neither team was able to pull away with a large lead over the course of the half. The largest lead of the first half was no larger than four points, and the lead swapped sides five different times. 

Grant Nelson did not record a single block in the first half but had two in the first four minutes of the second half. Another player who gave Omaha trouble in the second half was Boden Skunberg. Skunberg came out of the half and was scorching hot from deep, shooting 4-5 from behind the arc early in the second half. 

“They made a huge difference,” said Coach Crutchfield on NDSU’s big men down low. “Marquel struggled, he couldn’t get anything going at the rim. Those guys are bigger, and Grant Nelson, he’s an athlete. He’s 6-11 he can move, he’s mobile and that’s a guy that will probably play in the NBA somehow, some way.” 

Omaha would put together a late effort but would fall short despite big time threes from Tony Osburn and JJ White. The Mavericks came out with a full court press that caused the Bison issues but were unable to convert the chances. 

North Dakota State were red-hot in the second half, they shot 8-15 from three-point land. Andrew Morgan, the other big man for NDSU, finished the game with 15 points and shot 7-11 from the field. Jacari White was another shooter who caused Omaha problems shooting and finishing with 11 points. 

“They put shooters on the floor, and we were forced to guard Nelson one on one and he was able to spread the ball out,” said Coach Crutchfield on NDSU’s offense in the second half. 

The Mavericks were led in scoring by JJ White and Ja’Sean Glover, both of which finished with 16 points. Frankie Fidler also had 13 points and extended his double-digit point streak to eight games. 

Omaha’s next game out will be on the road in Brookings, SD against South Dakota State on Jan. 19. The Mavericks will then travel to Vermillion, SD to take on South Dakota on Jan. 21.