Tyson Ward scored 23 points, and North Dakota State advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 64 with a 78-74 win over North Carolina Central in a First Four game on Wednesday night.
Vinnie Shahid had 14 points, including a pair of foul shots with 8 seconds left to seal the game for North Dakota State (19-15), which advances to play East Region No. 1 seed Duke on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sam Griesel and Jared Samuelson each added 10 points for the Summit League Tournament winners. The Bison picked up their second NCAA Tournament win after upsetting Oklahoma in the opening round in 2014.
N.C. Central (18-16) squandered an outstanding night by senior center Raasean Davis, who scored 20 points and pulled down 16 rebounds — the 16th double-double of his career. Larry McKnight Jr. also had 20 points and Randy Miller Jr. scored 18 for the Eagles, who lost a First Four game for the third consecutive year.
The Bison held a 40-34 lead at the half on the strength of seven 3-pointers in 14 attempts and 58-percent shooting overall. Five North Dakota State had hit long shots before the intermission, with Samuelson going 3 for 4.
N.C. Central: The third time wasn’t a charm for the Eagles, who mounted a comeback but couldn’t keep a second-half lead for long.
North Dakota State: The Bison used outside shooting to bolt out to a lead in the first half and then adapted down the stretch.
North Dakota State, a No. 16 seed, moves into the main NCAA bracket, where Zion Williamson and the Blue Devils await.