After losing to South Dakota State on February 8, Coach Rodney Billups made it clear that despite having lost two in a row, he felt good about the next four games and thought that Denver could win them all – they’re 3/4 of the way there after today’s 66-65 victory over Oral Roberts. It’s a game that gets Denver to 7-6 in the conference and keeps them in third place behind South Dakota State and South Dakota. It’s been an impressive streak and I asked Coach Billups how his confidence affected the run. “I hope that it’s infectious. We still practice hrd, we play hard, we try different lineups, and our guys believe in each other, which is great to see. But it’s one thing when I’m playing and another when I’m coaching. I hope my atittude and energy help them win games.”
After a close loss to South Dakota State on Thursday, Denver was in desperate need of a home win to keep them in the running for a third place finish in the Summit League. Things looked a little iffy at the beginning, and North Dakota State made a huge run that Denver had to fight off late, but they ended up coming away with a 66-63 victory. This gets them to 5-6 in the Summit League, and depending on the result of tonight’s Fort Wayne/Omaha game, the Pios will either be in third place or a game back in fourth place at the end of the day.
Denver had a chance late, which is about all you can ask for against a team as tough as South Dakota State, but the Pios just weren’t able to pull this one off. A horrid start to the game and a lack of focus at stretches were too much for Denver to overcome, and despite holding Mike Daum to 4-16 from the field, they couldn’t come away with the win. It was frustrating to see the opportunity slip away, but the fight that Denver showed was admirable and South Dakota State is the best team in the league, so this was always going to be a tough one to win.
Momentum can be an important thing in sports, and as Denver headed into today’s showdown against Fort Wayne on a three game winning streak (including a victory over South Dakota last weekend) they seemed to have all of the momentum in the world. And that would hold would true in this game… for the first two and a half minutes. After that, things fell apart quickly and we saw many bad habits come back to this Denver team. It’s a frustrating setback after such a good run, especially when you dig a little deeper into the stats, as we will in a second.
It was an opportunity for their biggest win of the season and the Denver Pioneers took advantage of it. They rode a hot start and incredible performances to an almost easy 84-68 win. South Dakota did make a few runs but for the most part Denver just outplayed them and certainly looked like the better team on this day. I asked Coach Billups how a win like this affects the team’s confidence the rest of the way and he said “If we can beat arguably the best team in the conference on our home floor, we can beat anybody. We’ve got some tough games ahead, we’ve got to take this show on the road against Fort Wayne next Saturday but this gives us the confidence to push through.”
The Denver PIoneers picked up a nice 12 point win over Western Illinois at Magness Arena on Thursday night. Despite a strong start from Denver, Western Illinois would make things close and the game was as tight as a 1 point Denver lead with 6:30 to go, but the Pios would get a layup 12 seconds later to extend the lead and they never looked back from there. It was a promising return to Magness after a good road trip that was almost great and has Denver sitting at 3-4 in the Summit League, only a half game out of a third place tie.
It was exactly the kind of game the Denver Pioneers men’s basketball team needed. An 11-0 run to start the game took some of the pressure off after Thursday night’s heartbreaking loss to Omaha – and despite several comebacks from Oral Roberts, the Pios held strong and left Tulsa with a 73-64 win.
With 2.1 seconds to go, it looked like Denver was going to steal an OT road victory at Omaha. Jake Pemberton had just made a three and Denver had a 74-71 lead – Omaha would need a miracle three to tie it… and as you can see in the picture above, Omaha’s Daniel Norl made that miracle three (banked in no less!) and sent the game to a second OT. Denver had a chance in that second OT, and hung around, but in the end Omaha pulled away and Denver ended up with its most frustrating loss of the season.
Not surprisingly, it was a long afternoon in Brookings, South Dakota for the Denver Pioneers. The Jackrabbits proved why they are the league favorites and atop the conference standings – they are dang good. Mike Daum had 34 points and David Jenkins added 27 in a game that Denver was never in from the start.
There weren’t a lot of reasons to be hopeful heading into Thursday night’s game at North Dakota State. Denver had lost five in a row against DI opponents, was 0-2 in the Summit League, and oh yeah, they hadn’t won at North Dakota State ever. So it made sense to see that the Pios were a 10.5 point underdog at tip off, some may have even wondered why the spread wasn’t higher. But it seems we all underestimated this scrappy Pioneers squad – despite all of the points mentioned above, they went into Fargo and came away with a 67-61 victory where they lead almost the entire way. Continue reading Denver Holds On For Huge 67-61 Victory Over North Dakota State