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Kevin Schnepf, Published November 08 2013

Bison men roll to 93-49 season-opening victory

FARGO – Call this one a tuneup for next week’s challenge in California.

North Dakota State’s men’s basketball team, with high expectations of playing in this season’s NCAA tournament, rolled to a 93-49 season-opening win over Viterbo (Wis.) on Friday night at the Bison Sports Arena.

It won’t be quite so easy next Thursday, when the Bison play St. Mary’s of California – a program that has produced eight NCAA tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2010 and a win in the first round last year.

“That is going to be a tough environment,” said senior guard Mike Felt, who tied a Bison single-game record with seven 3-pointers. “They don’t lose there too often.”

Felt was referring to the 3,500-seat McKeon Pavilion – the smallest gym in the West Coast Conference.

“I’m very excited for it,” said senior Taylor Braun, who grew up near Portland, Ore. “There are some Portland kids playing on that team. It should be a lot of fun.”

It was certainly fun on Friday for Felt, who ended up scoring 23 points.

“I’m a huge believer in Mike and his ability to shoot … he’s an elite shooter,” said Bison head coach Saul Phillips. “It’s good to see. He’s got a lot of confidence in that shot coming into this season.”

Felt, who has endured his shooting slumps during his Bison career, said he is more relaxed this season.

“I’m not dwelling on the last shot … make or miss,” Felt said.

Meanwhile, the Bison defense didn’t give Viterbo many chances to shoot during a 27-2 run that gave them a commanding 43-16 halftime lead.

“We gave up some easy buckets at the start of the game,” said Braun, who ended up with 16 points and four steals. “That’s when we sat down and said, ‘Guys, it’s time to step it up.”

Here are some highlights that gave the crowd of 2,157 plenty to cheer about:

E Sophomore Kory Brown leaped for a tip-in that gave the Bison a 22-14 lead.

E Braun skied for a driving layup that made it 29-24.

E The Bison came up with six blocked shots.

E Senior center Marshall Bjorklund saw his three-quarter court heave rim out as the first half ended.

E Braun, giving up a dunk of his own, bounced it off the backboard for TrayVonn Wright to slam it home to make it 53-23.

Viterbo, an NAIA school located in La Crosse, Wis., entered Friday’s game with a 2-1 record after claiming a 73-64 win at Valley City State on Thursday night. Viterbo’s lone loss had been an 82-39 setback to Wisconsin-Green Bay.

VITERBO (49): Shepard 2-5 0-0 4, Lewis 5-11 1-1 12, Turba 1-6 4-4 6, Diciaula 1-4 0-0 2, Duberry 0-1 1-2 1, Sheforgen 1-2 3-3 5, Drummond 3-8 0-0 7, Kastenschmidt 0-0 0-0 0, Kaiser 0-0 1-2 1, Bamke 0-1 5-6 5, Dreger 0-1 0-0 0, Allbaugh 1-1 0-0 2, Engelstad 1-3 1-2 3, Johnson 0-1 0-0. Totals: 15-44 (FG), 16-20 (FT).

NDSU (93): Wright 5-10 0-1 11, Bjorklund 3-4 0-3 6, Alexander 3-6 3-3 10, Brown 3-4 0-0 6, Braun 7-12 1-3 16, Newell 0-3 2-2 2, Felt 9-13 0-0 23, Checkal 0-3 2-2 2, Kading 0-2 0-0 0, Werner 5-8 2-3 12, Aaberg 1-1 3-4 5. Totals: 35-66 (FG), 13-21 (FT).

Halftime: NDSU 43, V 16. Total fouls: V 23, NDSU 17. 3-point goals: V 3-9 (Shepard 1, Lewis 1, Drummond 1), NDSU 10-19 (Wright 1, Alexander 1, Felt 7).

Rebounds: V 25 (Shepard 5), NDSU 41 (Werner 9, Kading 6, Aaberg 5, Braun 5). Assists: V 5, NDSU 16 (Braun 5, Alexander 4, Newell 4). Steals: V 0, NDSU 9 (Braun 4). Turnovers: V 17 (Duberry 3, Drummond 3), NDSU 5 (Braun 2). A-2,157.


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com