Bison Bench Lifts NDSU to 79-65 Victory over Montana State

FARGO, N.D. (NDSU Athletics) – Vinnie Shahid led all scorers with 24 points, and Tyson Ward added 19, but it was the bench production that powered the North Dakota State men’s basketball team to a 79-65 victory over Montana State on Monday evening inside the Scheels Center.

Freshman Maleeck Harden-Hayes (season-high 10 points), junior Tyler Witz (9 points) and sophomore Jaxon Knotek (career-high 8 points) combined to score 27 off the NDSU bench.

It was the third straight win for the Bison, improving their season record to 8-4. Montana State fell to 6-4 with the loss.

Ward filled the stat sheet with 19 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. It was his first double-double of the season and 10th of his career.

NDSU led for 36 of the game’s 40 minutes. The Bison held a 34-31 advantage at halftime, but Montana State scored the first seven points of the second half to pull ahead 38-34 with 17 minutes remaining.

The Bison responded with an 11-3 run to go up 49-43 with 12:30 on the clock, and NDSU never trailed again. Tyree Eady drained a three from the corner, Knotek hit two treys in the span of a minute, and Ward scored on a goaltending call to cap the run.

Buckets from Harden-Hayes and Witz helped push the Bison lead to as many as 14 with 6:30 left. Montana State trimmed the margin to seven at 72-65 in the final two minutes, but Shahid made four free throws and a three-pointer in the final 81 seconds to seal the victory.

NDSU committed only five turnovers in the game and forced the Bobcats into 16 turnovers for a plus-11 margin. The Bison made 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from three-point range.

NDSU plays at Marquette on Friday, Dec. 20, at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast nationally on FS1.