DAYTON, Ohio – North Carolina Central University rallied from a 13-point second half deficit to lead North Dakota State, but the Bison were able to take the lead back in the late stages on the way to a 78-74 final at UD Arena in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament.
NCCU (18-16) and NDSU (19-15) traded three-pointers early in the contest as both teams were scorching the net early, but the Bison were able to mount a 6-0 run to create separation in the middle of the half. However, the Eagles were able to respond right back on a 9-4 run to tie the game near the end of the first period with help from free throws and a three-pointer from Zacarry Douglas (Landover, Md.). After falling to level, NDSU was able to grab a couple of buckets in the final moments to take a 40-34 lead at the break.
NDSU threatened to pull away in the early part of the second half, but the Eagles were able to ignite a 9-0 run over three minutes of play to pull the game to four at 49-45 with 13:41 to go in regulation. NCCU kept the momentum going as Randy Miller Jr. (Odenton, Md.) and Larry McKnight Jr. (North Miami Fla.) joined forces to hit back-to-back treys to level the game at 58-58 with 7:32 remaining.
NCCU kept that momentum rolling and were finally able to pull ahead of the Bison, and led by as many as five at 66-61, with 5:24 to play. NDSU hung tight with the maroon and gray and was able to recapture the advantage within the final two minutes and hold off the Eagles for a 78-74 final score.
Raasean Davis (Chicago, Ill.) and McKnight posted a joint team-high 20 points, and Davis added on a game-high 16 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season, and his 24th over his NCCU career. McKnight knocked down four treys, and Miller connected three times from downtown for 18 points. Jordan Perkins (Greensboro, N.C.) fueled the offense with a game-high 10 assists.
Tyson Ward (Tampa, Fla.) put up a game-high 23 points for NDSU, and he was joined by three other teammates in double-figures as well. Vinne Shahid (Minneapolis, Minn.) followed with 14 points, and Jared Samuelson (Gretna, Neb.) and Sam Griesel (Lincoln, Neb.) each chipped in 10 points.
Courtesy: NCCU Athletics