ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Northern State bench players didn't spend a lot of time sitting down because many of the reserve players were called upon for key minutes and contributions.
In its first road game of the season Northern beat Concordia St. Paul 85-70 on Friday at Gangelhoff Center in the first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference action for both men's basketball squads.
The Wolves' bench contributed 39 points compared to 12 for the Golden Bears.
Our bench was incredible, said NSU coach Paul Sather. Those freshman kids (Mitch White, Seth Bachand and Michael Emge) and Geoffrey (Firmin) and Trent (Zomer). Our bench was the difference. Our freshmen came in and did a heck of a job of calming the game. Emge made threes against their zone. Seth made big time plays.
Both teams had to sustain injury losses that changed the complexion of the game. Concordia was without 6-foot-10 starting center Brent Barz who averages 10.0 points and 8.3 rebounds. He was sidelined with an injury so the Golden Bears went to a smaller and quicker lineup.
Just minutes into the game NSU starting point guard Tydan Storrusten sustained an injury and did not return to the lineup.
Barz is a good player and when he doesn't play, they can put four really good shooters out there. Then Tydan went down and it was so different without him. We had Mitch running the point and Firmin did a great job coming in, said Sather.
The Golden Bears led for much of the first half until the Wolves got loose before the break. Concordia led 33-29 with five minutes left in the half but NSU went on a 14-5 scoring run to take a 43-38 halftime lead.
The two teams exchanged field goals in the early going in the second half. Northern led 59-55 with 13 minutes left in the game. A 12-4 run boosted NSU to a 71-59 lead with about 10 minutes remaining.
We got better as the game went on, said Sather. Different guys at different moments stepped up for us. I didn't see this coming. I knew we could come in and win but I didn't see it being 85-70. The thing I'm most proud of was it was so chaotic and we kept together as a team. We were out there a lot of times with three true freshmen. I'm proud of those guys.
Five Northern players reached double figures in scoring, led by Collin Pryor and Bachand with 16 points each, Dustin Tetzlaff and and Jared Hannigan with 12 each, and Emge with 11.
The big statistical difference came in the rebounding totals where NSU led 49-30. Tetzlaff pulled down 11 boards and Pryor added 10.
Kenny Olafeso topped the Golden Bears with 19 points and Terez Van Pelt followed with 13.
Northern State hops right back on the court today in an NSIC game at St. Cloud State. The men's game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
St. Cloud is physical, said Sather. It was hard for us to play all our big guys tonight (Friday) because of how Concordia played. Right now we're playing 10 guys and I think we're ready to play.
NORTHERN STATE (5-0, 1-0 NSIC): Collin Pryor 7-12 2-2 16, Dustin Tetzlaff 6-14 0-2 12, Jared Hannigan 5-11 0-0 12, Alex Thomas 2-3 0-0 6, Tydan Storrusten 0-0 0-0 0, Mitch White 2-5 2-2 6, Seth Bachand 8-11 0-0 16, Geoffrey Firmin 1-6 0-0 2, Michael Emge 4-9 0-0 11, Trent Zomer 1-3 2-3 4. Totals 36-74 6-9 85.
CONCORDIA-ST. PAUL (3-2, 0-1 NSIC): Isaiah Thomas 5-9 0-0 12, Taylor Steinbauer 3-3 0-0 6, Kenny Olafeso 8-10 2-2 19, Peter Olafeso 3-16 2-2 8, Terez Van Pelt 6-13 0-0 13, Clay Olstad 0-1 0-0 0, David Stanley 0-0 0-0 0, Cole Olstad 0-5 3-4 3, Cordell Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Zach Towle 3-7 0-0 9, Nicco Montgomery 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-67 7-8 70.
Halftime score - Northern 43-38. 3-point field goals - Northern 7-17 (Hannigan 2-6, Thomas 2-2, White 0-1, Firmin 0-1, Emge 3-6, Zomer 0-1); Concordia 7-25 (Thomas 2-6, K. Olafeso 1-1, P. Olafeso 0-5, Van Pelt 1-3, Clay Olstad 0-1, Cole Olstad 0-1, Smith 0-1, Towle 3-6, Montgomery 0-1). Total fouls - Northern 11; Concordia 14. Rebounds - Northern 45 (Tetzlaff 11, Pryor 10); Concordia 27 (P. Olafeso 8). Assists - Northern 18 (Firmin 5, White 5); Concordia 14 (K. Olafeso 5). Blocks - Northern 5 (Bachand 3); Concordia 4 (Steinbauer 3). Steals - Northern 8 (Hannigan 3, Bachand 3); Concordia 6. Turnovers - Northern 14; Concordia 11. Officials - Mike Contore, Tim Garrett, Mark Riggs.