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Bison men respond with 82-64 win over Oral Roberts

Paul Miller of North Dakota State drives past R.J. Fuqua of Oral Roberts during their basketball game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Fargo. (Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service)1 / 4
A.J. Jacobson of North Dakota State shoots over Spencer Sutton of Oral Roberts during their basketball game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Fargo. (Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service)2 / 4
Paul Miller of North Dakota State drives past Sam Kearns of Oral Roberts during their basketball game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Fargo. (Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service)3 / 4
Paul Miller of North Dakota State performs a layup in front of Albert Owens of Oral Roberts during their basketball game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Fargo. (Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service)4 / 4

FARGO—It was a time out that was more about attitude than strategy. North Dakota State men's basketball coach Dave Richman had seen enough when a lazy offensive rebound turned into an Oral Roberts 3-point field goal.

Richman's face turned a few shades of red in a 30-second rant that had his players paying attention.

"He was getting after us a bit," said guard A.J. Jacobson. "We were giving up some offensive rebounds and we lost a little focus there."

Whatever was said, it worked. The Bison turned the intensity meter up a notch the rest of the first half—and the rest of the game for that matter—in taking an 82-64 Summit League victory Saturday afternoon before 3,625 fans at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.

It put to rest an ordinary effort in a loss on Thursday to the University of Denver and improved the Bison to 2-2 in the Summit and 10-8 overall. It was the second straight defeat on the Dakotas trip for ORU, which lost to South Dakota State on Thursday after opening the Summit with three straight victories.

"I'm extremely pleased with the result but even more proud of our guys how they responded," Richman said. "That was a very good Oral Roberts team as you could tell by their first 15 minutes."

NDSU trailed 34-29 after 15 minutes when Richman popped off the bench for a time out. Getting on his players is not something Richman said he wants to do very often, preferring to give "ownership" to them.

"When you play a big, physical team ... we were not doing our part to fight back," he said. "We need all five guys doing their part. Yesterday was a case in point. We had a pointed conversation with some of the guys and I'm encouraged how they responded."

The Bison finished the half with a 10-2 run to take a 39-36 halftime lead.

The surge did not stop after intermission. NDSU held the Eagles scoreless for 4½ minutes in on early stretch in the second half and took advantage with 10 straight points to take a 53-39 advantage with 13:40 left.

ORU didn't go away.

The Eagles put their own defensive clamps on the Bison and clawed back to within 65-60 on a short jumper by Emmanuel Nzekwesi, who led ORU with 23 points.

That's when Paul Miller responded like a senior. His back-to-back hoops, the latter with 4 minutes remaining, boosted the Bison lead to nine points. From there, the Bison handed the control-the-clock reigns to freshman point guard Cameron Hunter, who responded like a veteran down the stretch.

He had six straight points to boost NDSU's lead in double digits in the last three minutes.

"I felt like in the beginning I was a little hesitant," Hunter said. "I got the rhythm back in the second half."

Miller led NDSU with 20 points, but Hunter's contribution was valuable with 17 points and 6 assists. The Bison had four players in double figures.

"Whenever you get four guys in double figures, that's huge," Hunter said. "That means we're sharing the ball, passing it and getting good shots."

ORU (7-13, 3-2 Summit): Nzekwesi 7-13 9-10 23, White 2-7 3-4 7, Miller 3-5 2-2 8, Kearns 2-9 2-2 8, Fuqua 3-14 2-2 9, Ruder 3-11 0-0 9, Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Owens 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 20-63 18-20 64. NDSU (10-8, 2-2 Summit): Jacobson 5-8 2-3 12, Eliason 2-4 0-0 4, P. Miller 7-15 4-4 20, Hunter 6-9 2-2 17, Ward 3-9 5-6 13, Samuelson 1-1 0-0 3, Quayle 0-1 0-0 0, Geu 2-3 2-3 6, Kreuser 2-2 1-1 5, D. Miller 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 29-53 14-16 82. Halftime: NDSU 39, ORU 36. Total fouls: ORU 16, NDSU 19. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: ORU 33 (Nzekwesi, White 8); NDSU 34 (Jacobson 8). 3-point goals: ORU 6-23 (Nzekwesi 0-1, Kearns 2-6, Fuqua 1-7, Ruder 3-9); NDSU 10-19 (Jacobson 2-3, P. Miller 2-5, Hunter 3-4, Ward 2-5, Quayle 0-1). Assists: ORU 7 (Kearns 5); NDSU 18 (Hunter 6). Turnovers: ORU 8 (Kearns, Fuqua 2); NDSU 10 (P. Miller 3). A-3,625.

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.

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