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FARGO — Things were looking so promising for North Dakota State heading into this weekend’s home men’s basketball series. A five-game winning streak, a young team that seemingly learned its lessons; it was all set up for a late January and February stretch run.

Now it’s back to the same old questions.

The head coach is not happy about it. Not after a 75-73 defeat to Kansas City Saturday afternoon at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. The Bison train that shed its November and December wreck, got back on track, seems derailed again.

“For whatever reason we got off course,” Dave Richman said. “It’s on me to get us back and organized. Sometimes we have other thoughts and ideas in our head about how it should go. It’s been called a system, it’s been called a process or whatever, the thing is very successful when you execute it. Like anything it’s hard. There’s a very small margin error and when you don’t execute it this is what happens over 80 minutes.”

Those minutes comprised two games and two losses that included Thursday’s 92-69 defeat to Oral Roberts. The Bison fell to 8-13 overall and 5-4 in the Summit League.

“You know, it hurts,” said Bison center Andrew Morgan, who did his part with a career-high 29 points. “We had the opportunities and that’s what hurts even more. If we would have made a couple different plays down the stretch it would have been a different outcome.”


North Dakota State’s Tajavis Miller drives against Kansas City’s Jevin Sullivan and Sam Martin at the Scheels Center on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

David Samson/The Forum

Kansas City guard Shemarri Allen missed two free throws with 18 seconds left. On the other end, the Bison went to Grant Nelson, whose contested shot from about 10 feet away with three seconds remaining wasn’t close.

Still, it was a look NDSU was hoping for, Richman said.

“It’s an action that had been successful,” he said. “There are two different looks out of it. Give their kid credit, he got physical and made a winning play.”

Or the winning play like the offensive rebound Kansas City got after a missed free throw, which led to Precious Idiaru’s 3-pointer and a 71-68 lead with 1:25 remaining. Or missed free throws; the Bison finished 15 of 25.

If there was a brief stretch that defined NDSU’s play this weekend it was the final 20 seconds of the first half. The Bison pulled within 40-37, gave up a 3 but were looking to take the last shot.

Guard Jacari White, however, threw it away and Allen drained another 3-pointer with one second left to give Kansas City a 46-37 halftime lead. The Kangaroos held the lead for just over 18:30 of the first 20 minutes and were in control.

NDSU gave up 52 to Oral Roberts in the first half Thursday.

“To me it’s the disappointment at the end of the last two first halves,” Richman said. “We give up 52 to Oral Roberts and follow that up and give up 46. We chart possessions, they had 66 possession and 75 points, that’s over one point per possession. It’s a recipe for exactly what happened.’

Kansas City came to Fargo losers of three of its last four, although the Roos weren’t showing that vibe and were the more engaged team in the first half.

“Give Kansas City credit, for some reason they looked like the more desperate, hungrier team,” Richman said.

NDSU started the second half on a 9-2 run to tighten it up. The Bison had multiple chances to tie or take a lead but couldn’t convert until Morgan’s inside hoop with 12:20 remaining.

NDSU’s first lead of the game made it 51-50. It was a fight to the finish from there, where a once flourishing offensive game turned into a defensive possession-by-possession affair.

“We could have done better on the defensive end,” Morgan said. “We’ll get back on Monday and we’ll figure it out.”

KC (8-13, 4-4 Summit): Prec. Idiaru 4-9 0-0 11, Pro. Idiaru 0-3 0-0 0, Ngandu 3-4 0-2 6, Allen 8-19 10-16 28, Mitchell 7-13 4-5 23, Andrews 1-3 0-0 2, B. Diallo 2-2 1-2 5, Sullivan 0-1 0-0 0, Martin 0-0 0-0 0, S. Diallo 0-0 0-0 0, Dimou 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-55 15-25 73.

NDSU (8-13, 5-4 Summit): Nelson 6-11 3-3 15, Morgan 11-16 7-12 29, Wheeler-Thomas 2-4 1-1 5, White 0-3 0-0 0, Skunberg 2-4 0-1 4, Miller 2-5 3-4 9, Waddles 3-5 0-0 9, Streit 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 27-49 14-21 73.

Halftime: KC 46, NDSU 37. Total fouls: KC 19, NDSU 24. Fouled out: Ngandu, Skunberg, Wheeler-Thomas. Rebounds: KC 28 (Ngandu 6); NDSU 32 (Morgan 8). 3-point goals: KC 10-29 (Pre. Idiaru 3-7, Pro. Idiaru 0-3, Allen 2-5, Mitchell 5-11, Sullivan 0-1); NDSU (Nelson 0-1, Wheeler-Thomas 0-2, White 0-1, Miller 2-4, Waddles 3-4, Skunberg 0-1). Assists: KC 10 (Allen 7); NDSU 10 (Nelson, Wheeler-Thomas 3). Turnovers: KC 10 (Mitchell 4); NDSU 13 (Morgan 3). A-1,964.


North Dakota State’s Boden Skunberg scores past Kansas City’s Jevin Sullivan and Shemarri Allen at the Scheels Center on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

David Samson/Forum Communications Co.

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