Miller, Bison bounce back with win over Omaha
By Eric Peterson
Forum News Service
FARGO — North Dakota State senior Paul Miller scored a game-high 25 points to help lead his team to a double-digit victory Thursday night, but Miller wasn’t totally satisfied.
“I think there is a lot more in the tank,” Miller said.
The Bison had enough in the tank to score a 73-58 victory against Omaha in Summit League men’s basketball before 2,507 fans at the Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
“We played a decent game, it just felt like we had even more there,” said Miller, who added seven rebounds.
The Bison (11-10, 3-3 Summit League) snapped a two-game losing streak. NDSU, which had lost three of its previous four home games, bounced back from a 92-88 road loss at Fort Wayne last Saturday.
“I’m very pleased with the way we responded,” Bison head coach Dave Richman said.
Richman was also pleased with the way his team played defense. The Mavericks entered the game averaging 79.2 points per contest. Omaha shot 32 percent (8 of 25) from the field in the second half.
“We are a defensive-minded team,” Richman said. “That’s really where it happened for us tonight.”
Miller made it happen for the Bison on the offensive end, shooting 58 percent from the field (7 of 12), including 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. The 6-foot-6 guard also dished out a game-high five assists.
Miller helped NDSU build a double-digit halftime lead, scoring 15 points in the opening 20 minutes. He also had four assists by halftime.
The Bison scored 16 consecutive points during one stretch in the first half to build a 17-point lead. Four different Bison players drained 3-pointers during that stretch. Sophomore guard Chris Quayle capped the run with a 3-pointer that gave NDSU a 41-24 lead with 3 minutes to play until halftime.
Miller sank two free throws with 3 seconds remaining in the first half to give NDSU a 43-33 lead, which it carried into halftime. The Bison shot 50 percent (7 of 14) from 3-point range in the opening half. Sophomore guard Tyson Ward provided a spark off the bench. The 6-foot-6 Ward scored nine points by halftime, including three two-handed dunks.
Ward finished with 17 points and three steals. He was coming off the bench for a second consecutive game after starting the season in the starting lineup.
“Coming off the bench is no big deal,” Ward said. “It’s all about winning. … I would like to be the spark plug, have a little energy coming off the bench.”
The Bison next host Western Illinois at 2 p.m. Saturday at Scheels Center.
“We need to make sure and enjoy this and build some confidence and swagger off that,” Richman said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.