Fort Wayne comeback hands Bison men overtime loss
FARGO — A shell-shocked look was very visible on the faces of North Dakota State men's basketball players Vinnie Shahid and Jared Samuelson as they sat at the postgame podium Sunday.
It was very similar to the some of the faces of the 2,043 fans at the Scheels Center, who had just seen the Bison give up a 15-point lead in the second half to suffer a 90-87 overtime Summit League loss to Purdue-Fort Wayne. John Konchar finished with 38 points, with the biggest coming on a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime to give Purdue-Fort Wayne the dramatic win.
After the Bison had tied the game at 87 on a pair of Rocky Kreuser free throws, Konchar took an inbound pass at the top of the key, dribbled for more than 10 seconds, cut left, then stepped back to deliver the dagger 3 just over the outstretched arm of Bison defender Tyson Ward.
Entering Sunday, Konchar, who added eight rebounds and four assists, was in the top four in the Summit League in points, rebounds and assists, and proved to be as difficult of a matchup as his statistics indicated.
"John Konchar is a special talent," Bison coach David Richman said. "He really proved that. He's very, very smart, he's sneaky athletic. He's got size, shoots it, handles it. Very instinctive defensively."
But to even get to that point, the Mastodons needed plenty of help from a Bison team that looked to have the game in hand.
After shooting 62 percent in the first half, the Bison offense came out strong again in the second, and following a Samuelson 3, had a 61-46 lead with 13 minutes, 55 seconds remaining.
But the shooting attack took an abrupt 180-degree turn, as the Bison proceeded to miss nine consecutive shots during an eight-minute stretch. This not only allowed Fort Wayne back in the game, it allowed the Mastodons to take their first leads since early in the first half, as a Konchar 3-pointer, one of five he hit after halftime, put them up 72-71.
NDSU got back on track a bit offensively, even making thrilling plays of their own to force overtime. Following two Konchar free throws, Vinnie Shahid gave the Bison life, as his top-of-the-key 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds to play was enough to force overtime.
But despite the magnitude of the shot, it didn't exactly produce a big morale boost in the huddle.
"We thought, up 11, 11 minutes left, we shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place," said Shahid. "That's on (us)."
The offense struggled again in overtime, making just 1-of-5 and unable to get a shot off following Konchar's decisive jumper.
Samuelson led the Bison with 17 points, while Tyson Ward added 16 and game-high nine rebounds off the bench. NDSU had five players score in double-figures.
This wasn't the first time the Bison struggled to put a team away after putting up a big early lead this season. But after making a comeback of their own, erasing a double-digit deficit to beat South Dakota in their conference opener Saturday, players were hopeful they had turned a corner.
Sunday proved there's still much work to do.
"We've had a problem this year taking our foot off the gas pedal," Samuelson said. "It happened again. It's execution, it's discipline. We've got to start learning this and we've got to start putting it into action. Compete until the end."
PFW (10-7, 2-0): Carl 2-5 0-0 4, Holba 2-7 1-2, Montgomery 6-8 0-0 16, Harrell 6-9 2-4 15, Konchar 14-24 5-8 38, Godfrey 3-3 0-0 6, Weir 0-0 0-0 0, Benford 2-5 0-0 4, Deberry 1-4 0-0 2 . Totals: 36-65 8-14 90.
NDSU (6-8, 1-1): Eady 5-9 0-0 12, Kreuser 1-6 8-8 11, Shahid 4-10 2-2 13, Samuelson 5-8 2-2 17, Quayle 1-1 0-0 2, Cook 0-1 0-0 0, Geu 2-6 2-2 7, Ward 7-10 2-2 16, Horn 4-7 1-2 9. Totals 29-58 17=18 87.
Halftime: NDSU 46, PFW 34. Total fouls: PFW 21, NDSU 15 Fouled out: Carl and Holba (FW). Rebounds: PFW 30 (Konchar 14); NDSU 30 (Ward 9). 3-point goals: PFW 10-28 (Konchar 5-10, Montgomery 4-6, Harrell 1-2, Holba 0-4, Carl and Deberry 0-3); NDSU 12-29 (Samuelson 5-8, Shahid 3-8, Eady 2-4, Kreuser 1-4, Geu 1-2, Horn 0-2, Ward 0-1). Assists: PFW 12 (Konchar 4); NDSU 11 (Eady 3). Turnovers: PFW 10 (Two with 3); NDSU 12 (Geu 3). A-2,043.