South Dakota State entered Saturday’s game at North Dakota State with a chance to earn a share of the lead in The Summit League standings, but the host Bison got hot early, and ran away with a 74-59 win, clinching a share of the league’s regular season crown in the process.
“The first half was very disappointing, and I told the players after the game that there are big moments in life, not that basketball is all that important in the end, but it’s important to us because it’s what we do and we work hard at it, sometimes you fail in big moments. These players have experienced success in big moments, but today as a coach I feel like I failed them in terms of getting them ready for what’s coming, and we just have to move on,” head coach Scott Nagy said. “Congratulations to them, they played great, and certainly deserve the conference championship.”
The Jackrabbits held Summit League leading scorer Taylor Braun to just six points on 1 of 6 shooting, but four other Bison player scored at least 10 points in the win, led by TrayVonn Wright, who finished with a game-high 20. Marshall Bjorklund added 18, Lawrrence Alexander 12 and Kory Brown 10 points.
Cody Larson led the Jackrabbits with 11 points in the loss with Jordan Dykstra and Brayden Carlson both adding 10 points. Marcus Heemstra and Jake Bittle both finished with nine points, with Heemstra adding a game-high eight rebounds, which also ties a season-high mark.
After an early 2-2 tie, the Bison turned a 7-0 run into a 14-3 run that gave NDSU a 16-5 lead after a Bjorklund jumper with 10 minutes, 52 seconds left in the first half.
The Jacks would cut the lead to seven points on a trio of occasions over the next five minutes, but the Bison closed the half on a 10-2 run to take a 33-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The host Bison shot 54 percent in the first half on 14 of 26 shooting and held the Jackrabbits to 28 percent from the floor on 7 of 25 shooting. Numbers that would look much the same at the end of the game, as NDSU finished 26 of 48 from the floor, 54 percent, and the Jacks 19 of 58, 33 percent.
NDSU pushed the lead to as many at 19 points midway through the second half before the Jacks tried to mount a comeback, cutting the lead to a few at 10 points twice late, but would get no closer.
The Jackrabbits return home for their final two games of the season, starting with Denver on Thursday at 7 p.m., followed by the regular season finale against South Dakota on Saturday at 4 p.m.
NOTES: North Dakota State leads the all-time series with South Dakota State 111-98 … the Jackrabbits and Bison played in front of a soldout crowd of 5,614 fans at Bison Sports Arena … the loss snaps a season-long winning streak at six games … SDSU scored a season-low 18 points in the first half … SDSU lost when trailing at the half for the first time in four games in which they trailed at the break … Dykstra finished the game with 799 career rebounds, one shy of joining Mark Tetzlaff (1981-85) and Lee Colburn (1969-73) as the only Jackrabbits with at least 1,500 career points and 800 career rebounds
Courtesy: Ryan Swetter, SDSU