Shorthanded Denver Falls to North Dakota, 83-68

Denver (15-17, 6-13) lost guard Tevin Smith before the game due to a wrist injury and the short-handed Pioneer bench went scoreless in an 83-68 loss at the Summit League Tournament. The Fighting Hawks canned nine of eighteen 3-point shots (13-36 for the game) in the second half and punished the exhausted Pioneers.  The loss ends DU’s season.DU went into halftime, trailing 31-27 to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks. While the teams traded points and lead for much of the half,  it was Matt Norman’s 11 points, nine from downtown, and 10 points from Brady Daniels who guided UND to the 4-point halftime advantage.

Denver had eight first-half turnovers and sorely missed the injured Tevin Smith. Lukas Kisunas kept DU in the game with 14 points. The Hawks, employing a new offensive strategy as the season progressed, launched eighteen 3-point shots in the first 20 minutes, making four, while DU scored one of four shots from beyond the arc in the half.

Justin Mullins gave DU their first lead of the half, 38-37, but the Pioneers went into the official timeout trailing, 40-38. It was the Matt Norman show as the Hawks scored 8 straight points to build a 48-40 lead with 13:10 remaining. Denver trailed at the midway point following a Tommy Bruner Layup, 54-49. The Fighting Hawks kept shooting from distance to build a 59-49 lead. DU’s bench had no points at that point and the Pioneers looked spent. UND kept drilling 3-point shots, nine in the second half, to build a 70-55 lead with 6:12 remaining. Justin Mullins got some steals and buckets to pull Denver within 11 points but it was too late for the shorthanded Pioneers.

The game highlighted the shortcomings of this season’s team. Injuries played a major role with the loss of Coban Porter, Tyree Corbett and Tevin Smith.  Denver only had four 3-point makes to the Fighting Hawks’s 13, a nearly insurmountable gap.  Lukas Kisunas had a career game with 27 points but that was not nearly enough Friday evening. Ultimately, it was injuries and a lack of depth that spelled defeat and, yet, another post-season without DU men’s basketball.

12 thoughts on “Shorthanded Denver Falls to North Dakota, 83-68”

  1. Overwhelming sadness for all the difficult fates and terrible misfortunes this team suffered this season.

    I think this could have easily been an 18-20 win season (or more) had all the DU players who were supposed to play this year actually been healthy and able to play games.

    -The loss of Coban Porter, DU’s best shooter this past summer to a season-ending knee injury, followed by Porter’s apparently DUI-caused fatality to an innocent motorist is easily the most tragic DU event in my many years of following DU sports. How does any locker room cope with that?
    -The loss of DU’s best all around player, Tevin Smith, to two different injuries this year that had him miss a lot games was huge. And Smith was often not the same player on those ocassions when he did try to play this year.
    -The loss of 6-9 recruit Yarin Hasson to UConn over a DU academic procedural issue this past summer hurt DU as well
    -The loss of Drake Muller to an ACL injury for the whole year did not help, either
    -The loss of Tyree Corbett, the team’s best rebounder, down the stretch to whatever issue that caused him to miss the last month of the season was also crushing, as well. Don’t know for sure if it was injury or self-inflicted, but again, crushing.

    Add it all up, and it sadly doomed the Pioneers this year.

    I am proud of the fight the team showed this season despite every terrible thing that happened to them…and the coaching staff did their best, too.

  2. Dunker saw every game and enjoyed the entertainment value. Still, it’s the saddest season I can remember. Nothing comes close. The available players and the entire coaching staff are pure class. Nobody ever made an excuse for our disappointing results.

  3. End of a season for bad team in week conference

    But…. There’s a relevant hockey team playing , so let’s focus please

  4. Definitely a bummer these guys don’t get to play another game, but in a weird way, I’m glad it’s over. I can’t imagine the emotional roller coaster this season has been for the coaches and the players, and I’m sure everyone needs a break and a reset. I’m sure it’s been a mental and emotional drain. It takes a lot of fortitude to navigate a season like this.

    What’s next? Recruit, recruit, recruit!! Wulbrun and the coaches need to pound the pavement and bring in talent to help this program continue improving. As proud as we all are of the accomplishments this year in the face of massive adversity, the momentum only goes as far as this next pipeline of recruits.

  5. Did DU have cheerleaders at Soux Falls? I know the other schools. Is there a band for any sport including hockey?

    1. Post Covid, no pep band for any sport. A big debate has fans wanting a pep band and the administration citing cost. Hopefully, this gets resolved soon and we get a pep band back. We are the only D1 school I know of without a band – and we have a music school!

    2. No DU cheerleaders at Sioux Falls. Cheerleading was once considered and funded as a varsity level activity by the athletic dept, but was demoted recently to a club activity, with no travel. DU Pep band was also killed off for financial reasons.

      The school would rather put that spirit money into the sports themselves. Right now, DU has NCAA top 30 teams in hockey, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, women’s gymnastics, men’s soccer and skiing. That’s a lot of hungry mouths to feed, and there is also a need to get men’s hoops back to a competitive level in the Summit.

      1. The Summit League tourney is so unfair to DU. Sioux Falla is geared for the Dakota schools. Was there a pep band at home games this year? Do to health issues and the cold winter we couldn’t attend the games. There needs to have a more festive atmosphere at the games.

  6. No pep band this season. However, cheer and dance squads at games. Good announcer – a homer. We need live music.

  7. It is going to be key to keep the returners and hit the portal.The High School point guard from IL is good. He will help a lot. Given our recruiting the last two years, I have confidence the coaches will continue to find players who upgrade the talent level. Given our admin’s reluctance to really fund the program, I am a little worried tho.The basketball budget was slashed last year by over 200k. How long can Coach W continue to make miracles? He has to get support from the the returning players know their efforts are not in vain.

    1. Exciting possibilities for DU. The West Coast Conference introduced a new commissioner during the telecast of BYU vs. St. Mary’s game. He is Stu Jackson, who is on the Big East staff. In his interview he said the WCC needs to add more schools with BYU leaving. Check him out on Google.

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