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North Dakota State takes long-range approach in 70-53 win over Idaho

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 26, 2019

Idaho guard BJ Simmons shoots a 3-pointer in the first half against North Dakota State on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Moscow, Idaho. (Idaho Athletics / Courtesy)
Idaho guard BJ Simmons shoots a 3-pointer in the first half against North Dakota State on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Moscow, Idaho. (Idaho Athletics / Courtesy)

MOSCOW, Idaho – An Idaho team reduced by injury had nine players in uniform against North Dakota State.

Unfortunately, none was season leading scorer Trevon Allen. He watched Tuesday’s 70-53 nonconference loss to NDSU from the bench with his left foot in a medical boot and is day-to-day heading into the Vandals’ game against Seattle University on Saturday.

The Bison were also without a key contributor, 6-foot-10 center Rocky Kreuser. But playing almost entirely without a true post, NDSU (4-3) survived Idaho’s 9-0 run in the first 5 minutes, nosed ahead 29-27 at halftime and ran away in the second half.

NDSU outscored the Vandals (3-4) 41-26 in the second half. The Bison were committed to hoisting shots beyond the arc, connecting on 13 of 38 3-pointers while Idaho hit 4 of 14.

“We mixed up our defense a little,” Idaho coach Zac Claus said. “We were not tough enough defensively.

“(NDSU) was a good, well-coached, veteran, executing team. They played well.”

Both teams gave a good enough defensive effort to require the opponent to go deep into the shot clock on many possessions.

“That’s a good team,” NDSU coach Dave Richman said of the Vandals. “Without Allen, it was tough for them. Anytime you can win on the road, we’ll take it.”

Even without Kreuser, NDSU enjoyed a height advantage with 6-8 Sam Griesel and 6-9 Tyler Witz, but the Bison elected to use Griesel exclusively and Witz primarily on the wings.

“They flash the post,” Claus said.

But the Bison game is based on perimeter shooting.

“They are effective moving the ball from side to side,” Claus said. “(Kreuser is) another 3-point shooter.”

NDSU didn’t pile up points at the free-throw line, finishing 8 of 12 to Idaho’s 11 of 14.

“Normally, we get to the line,” Richman said. “That we didn’t is a credit to Idaho.”

The Bison got points from eight players and outpaced the Vandals 24-8 on points from the bench. Only Damon Thacker and Marquell Fraser contributed as reserves for the Vandals, with four points each.

Idaho’s BJ Simmons had a game-high 20 points. Chance Garvin, who added 13 points, gave the Vandals a spark early, connecting on a 3-pointer and making a steal and converting a solo fast break as part of Idaho’s game-opening run.

Cameron Hunter led NDSU with 13 points. Vinnie Shahid added 12 and Griesel scored 11, hitting on 2 of 6 3-point attempts.

Idaho made a brief bid to slow the Bison momentum midway through the second half. Simmons got to the line on a pair of possessions and hit 3 of 4 free throws to cut NDSU’s lead to 53-43.

But NDSU turned up the defensive intensity on the perimeter and forced Thacker into an over-and-back turnover. Idaho didn’t string together any kind of offensive run after that.

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