North Dakota State found themselves in a familiar position for the first thirty minutes of Tuesday night’s 84-64 loss to #4 Iowa State. The Bison were hanging with a heavily favored high-major team and making a big crowd of Big 12 fans very nervous.
The Bison led 30-27 with 1:41 left in the first half and trailed by just five with 8:12 to play in the game. Playing without senior wing Kory Brown (shoulder), the young Bison (11-15 players sophomores or freshmen) were even younger.
Towards the end of the game, the Bison appeared to be a man short. The Cyclones closed on a 23-8 run and took down the Thundering Herd 84-64. North Dakota State was held without a field goal from 12:46 until 5:07 and again at 3:20 until the end of the game.
“It was important for a stretch to hang, but we’re not in this to hang with anybody. We’re here to get “Ws” and we didn’t get that done” said head coach David Richman.
The Cyclones, not known for being a deep team, benefitted from a balanced effort from their starting five. No Iowa State starter had more than 21 points or fewer than 15. Abdel Nader paced the Cyclones with 21 points on 8-15 shooting.
Center Jameel McKay was a monster all night long. The Bison, who like to play small, had no answer for McKay. The senior big man finished with 15 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks.
Iowa State overcame a scary moment in the first half when All American Georges Niang hit the floor clutching his left knee. After a short stoppage Niang walked off under his own power. He would return later on in the first half and gave the Cyclones 29 minutes.
Paul Miller and AJ Jacobson led the Bison with 17 points apiece. The Bison struggled to shoot it from three (26%) and turned the ball over 12 times leading to 19 Iowa State points. Jacobson ran into early foul trouble and only gave the Bison 23 minutes. Miller also led the Herd in rebounds (10) and assists (3).
“Iowa State is a great atmosphere. They have great fans. They’re a high-major team, a top 10 team in the country. You can’t explain how important this experience was for a young team like us” said Jacobson.
The Bison go on the road this weekend at Arkansas State on Friday and at Southern Mississippi on Sunday afternoon. North Dakota State does not have another top 25 ranked team on the ’15-16 schedule.