Photo: Courtesy of Georgia Peachy
It looked like the same struggling Pioneer squad (6-14, 1-5) the first 20 minutes Wednesday night, trailing 36-30 at halftime at Magness Arena. But, this time, Denver took over a half of basketball – giving the fans a glimpse of what was expected at the beginning of the season. DU outscoring North Dakota State University 50 to 29 the final 20 minutes of the contest to coast to their first win of 2019.
The keys to the game were simple:
- Shoot 50% from the field (53.6%)✔️
- Hold NDSU under 40% shooting (39.3)✔️
- Hold NDSU 3-point shooting to 30% or less (28%)✔️
- Hold NDSU to 70 points or less (65)✔️
- Keep turnovers at 10 or less (10)✔️
- Hit free throws (14 of 17/82.4%)✔️
- Win the rebounding battle (36-32)✔️
Denver came out on fire to start the second half. In two and a half minutes, a jam by Ade Murkey tied the contest at 38-38. The teams traded buckets but Denver slowly started to pull away from the Bison. A Joe Rosga layup at 10:58 gave DU a 6 point lead, 54-48. Then, the DU defense ratcheted up and the air show began. Lay-ups by Donoven Carlisle, Ronnie Harrell, Jr., and Joe Rosga pushed the Pioneer lead to a dozen with 6:35 to go. With 4:28 to go, a dunk by Abiola Akintola got the DU bench on their feet. The dunk fest continued a minute later with a Donoven Carlisle dunk followed a minute-and-a-half later by a Tory Stewart-Miller slam to cap the night. Denver coasted the final minute of play for the win.
Four of Denver’s starters finished in double figures – Ade Murkey (18), Joe Rosga (17), Tory Stewart-Miller (10) and Ronnie Harrell, Jr. (15). The fifth starter, Donoven Carlisle, led DU with 10 rebounds.
It is too early to say the Pioneers have turned the corner tonight. But they showed fans and themselves what they can do when they play together with energy.