Photo: Marcus Byrd delivers a 3-point dagger
It was only appropriate Saturday afternoon that DU seniors Marcus Byrd, Nate Engesser, and Bryant Rucker played key roles in a decisive Pioneer (15-14) victory 70-59 at Magness Arena over North Dakota State University (18-12).
The Pioneers started slowly, trailing 0-5, to start the game but quickly played the Bison even-up through the first half. The teams went to intermission tied at 29 but the Pioneers depth took its toll on the visiting Bison in the second half. A lively crowd, supporting the graduating seniors, combined with spillover from lax, created a great afternoon for a contest that eventually guaranteed a winning regular season for DU.
The Pioneers dominated the boards, 27-19 – especially in the second half. The star of the afternoon, freshman C.J. Bobbitt played his most complete game of the year on both ends of the floor with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Denver shot 10-17 from the arc (58.8%) and 52% from the field – so no Summit League team could have stopped them today.
To this observer, the Pioneers look as comfortable running their stuff on both ends of the floor as they have all year. The seniors did their part to contribute to the win. Marcus Byrd had another rock solid game with 14 points, 7 big rebounds and an assist. Nate Engesser finished with game with 7 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist while Bryant Rucker chipped in with 2 points and 2 assists. All three played a role today and during the year taking a young roster to a winning regular season.
Coach Joe Scott and his staff also deserve credit for the progress the team made during the course of the year. By giving a number of players critical minutes during the regular season and developing younger players, the future looks bright.
Their first round opponent in the Summit League Conference Tournament will be the University Nebraska – Omaha Mavericks. Either of these two teams is capable of springing some surprises in the Summit League conference tournament.