Denver (6-12, 2-3) took a big step up in competition in the Summit League against the North Dakota State Bison (11-5, 3-1) Monday night. The Bison torched Denver in the first 10 minutes, 25-12, nailing five 3-point shots to forge the 13 point advantage. The Bison cruised from there to a decisive 87-69 victory. More than anything, this game was a reminder that Denver has work to do to be a competitive team, night-in and night-out, especially against a big, veteran team like NDSU.
NDSU’s Rocky Kreuser and Sam Greisel showed why they were selected first-team preseason All-Summit League players. In the first half, crafty 6’6″ guard Greisel had 11 points and 6 rebounds while big forward Kreuser scored 10 points and snared five rebounds. The first half ended 44-23 in dominant fashion by NDSU. DU shot 25% from the field, missing numerous layups, and was 1 of 6 from the three-point stripe. NDSU shot 50% from the field and canned 7 three-point shots in the half.
The second half was more of the same. DU freshman Tevin Smith provided strong second-half scoring for Denver, driving into the paint and scoring while ending the game with a team-leading 18 points. Tristan Greene came off the bench and added size and energy in the second half to match up with the bigger Bison squad to finish with 8 points and 4 rebounds.
Denver continues to struggle with slow starts, down 10-0 after the first two minutes. KJ Hunt struggled against the Bison size as did Tuoko Tainamo with the pair getting a combined 10 points and 6 rebounds. Denver never led in the contest and trailed by 20 points or more most of the second half. Teams with NDSU’s size and experience will continue to give the Pioneers fits on the floor this season until the younger players gain experience and the Denver coaching staff adds some additional size and skill to the roster in future seasons.
The game was a measuring stick for DU men’s basketball and shows that they have more work to do, especially if they aspire to be an upper-tier team in the Summit League.
Photo: Courtesy of NDSU Athletics