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NDSU on Fire Against Denver, Moves on to Championship

North Dakota State wasn’t going to let anyone down, and routed Denver, 83 to 48 in the first game of Monday’s men’s semifinal. 

Head coach Saul Phillips was all smiles, and added a few jokes in his post game press conference.

“We prepared with yoga, long walks, and soothing music. (laughs) We prepared with hard, quick reps at game speed, and even played a intrasquad game.”

The Bison came out firing from the start, jumping out to a 14-4 lead that eventually was stretched to 20-6 with about ten minutes to go in the first half.

Oh, and NDSU wasn’t done. The highlight of the first half was Taylor Braun hitting a three and beating the shot clock with under five minutes.

The Bison were shooting the ball lights out, and Denver was getting beat badly on the glass, and on the perimeter.

At halftime, the Bison led 42-15, and shot an astounding 73.9% from the field. Braun had 18 points in the half, more than the entire Denver team. Phillips said Braun, ‘oozes with swagger, and was the alpha dog on the court,’ in Monday night’s game.

Denver, meanwhile, shot 30% from field, and did not hit a three in the first half.

In the second half, the Bison didn’t take their feet off the pedal. NDSU was beating Denver in transition, and the Pioneers were missing easy lay-ups. Denver struggled to even hit a shot until the 15:58 mark in the second half.

That was the story of the game. The Bison were dominating, and Denver was simply outworked.

For the game, Braun led the way for the Bison, scoring 28 points. Denver’s stars were held in check, as Brett Olson was held to just one field goal.

In fact, NDSU was so efficient, they scored on 35 of 44 possessions. Even more impressive, the Bison scored 42 points on 27 possessions in the first half. NDSU ended up shooting 62.5% from field, and 66.7% from long range in the game. Denver shot 41.3% from the field, and only made one of 13 three-point field goals.

For tomorrow’s Summit League championship game, Phillips is going to tell his guys to just play the next game.

“This season has been a storybook, and its felt like the only way to end it was to cut down the nets.”

The championship game is at 8 p.m. at the Arena, and can be seen on ESPN2.

Photo Via Sam Tastad/ESPN 99.1

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