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Kevin Schnepf, Published December 10 2009

Men's basketball: Bison hold off pesky NAIA Dickinson State

It’s been 11 years since a North Dakota State men’s basketball team lost to an NAIA opponent. It almost happened Wednesday night at the Bison Sports Arena.

Regaining the lead early in the second half, NDSU made 11 of 13 free throws in the final four minutes to hold off pesky Dickinson State 90-83 before 1,056 quiet fans.

Dickinson, picked to finish fifth in the eight-team Dakota Athletic Conference, threatened to become the first NAIA team to beat NDSU since 1998 when Azusa Pacific beat the Bison 80-77. Instead, Dickinson left Fargo with a 3-8 record while the Bison improved to 4-4.

“I played Division III ball and I know how excited I would have been to play against a Division I team,” said Bison head coach Saul Phillips, who played at Wisconsin-Platteville. “I certainly hope our players are smart enough to understand that we are going to get their best shot.”

Best shot indeed. Dickinson ended up shooting nearly 51 percent in a Bison Sports Arena that felt like it was 50 degrees.

“We gave up good shots for great shots,” said Dickinson head coach Ty Orton, whose team is now 0-3 against Division I competition with losses to Air Force and Texas Southern. “That was by far our best performance out of those three games.”

While junior forward Joshua Henry scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half, the Lebsock brothers of Frenchtown, Mont., carried Dickinson in the second half. Brian Lebsock, a senior guard, scored eight of his 15 points in 90 seconds to give Dickinson a

52-48 lead with 14:28 remaining of the game.

Nathan Lebsock, an NAIA All-American guard last year, scored 12 of his 21 points in a five-minute span to pull Dickinson with 77-71 with five minutes remaining.

In the final four minutes, the Bison had to sink 11 of 13 free throws to preserve the win.

“It was definitely frustrating,” said Bison senior Sam Sussenguth. “I thought we could pull away but we couldn’t get that separation that we wanted to.”

After getting their first lead seven minutes into the game, the Bison went on a 14-0 run to build a 31-20 lead. But in the final six minutes of the first half, Dickinson State went on a 17-8 run – tying the score 37-37 before settling for a 39-37 halftime deficit.

The Bison used a 12-2 run to build a 60-54 lead with 11:52 remaining. The closest Dickinson could get was within four points.

The Bison did overcome their recent shooting woes in the Bison Sports Arena, making 56 percent of their shots.

Michael Tveidt led the Bison with 21 points followed by Josh Vaughan with 20 points and Eric Carlson with 19 points.

“We commit only 12 turnovers and shoot 56 percent, you would expect you could get some separation,” Phillips said. “Give Dickinson State credit. But I didn’t think we were anywhere near good enough defensively tonight. That will be addressed in practice.”

The Bison will be preparing for Division I opponent Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a

6-4 team that comes to the Bison Sports Arena on Saturday night.

“We’ll definitely have to play better,” said Tveidt, who didn’t feel he and his teammates were overlooking Dickinson State. “That wasn’t the problem. We just have to come out and play smarter.”

Phillips is hoping freshman guard Mike Felt can play Saturday. Felt, a

3-point shooting specialist who averages 5.6 points, did not dress Wednesday night – wearing a walking boot on his left foot to protect an injured ligament that was discovered during a Tuesday practice.

“He could be back Saturday or he could be out three weeks, we just don’t know yet,” Phillips said.

DSU (3-8 overall record): Henry 9-14 3-4 21, Williams 4-11 4-5 12, Thomas 1-4 1-2 3, B. Lebsock 5-7 3-6 15, N. Lebsock 6-12 8-8 21, Estes 2-4 0-0 5, Ernst 3-5 0-0 6, Kittleson 0-0 0-0 0, Hanstad 0-2 0-0 0, Fagerlund 0-0 0-0 0, Neff 0-0 0-0 0, Dynneson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 30-59 (FG), 19-25 (FT).

NDSU (4-4 overall record): Flowers 3-3 1-2 7, Carlson 6-13 7-8 19, Zastrow 2-5 2-2 8, Tveidt 8-15 4-9 21, Vaughan 7-9 4-4 20, Lundberg 1-2 0-0 2, Pennick 2-3 0-0 4, Sussenguth 3-4 1-1 7, Aaberg 1-5 0-0 2. Totals: 33-59 (FG), 19-26 (FT).

Halftime: NDSU 39, DSU 37. Total fouls: DSU 21, NDSU 19. 3-point goals: DSU 4-10 (Williams 0-1, B. Lebsock 2-2, N. Lebsock 1-3, Estes 1-2, Ernst 0-1, Hanstad 0-1), NDSU 5-8 (Zastrow 2-2, Tveidt 1-3, Vaughan 2-3). Rebounds: DSU 27 (Henry 8), NDSU 37 (Flowers 8, Carlson 8, Tveidt 6, Sussenguth 5). Assists: DSU 12 (N. Lebsock 5), NDSU 20 (Vaughan 8, Zastrow 5). Steals: DSU 5 (Henry 2), NDSU 4. Turnovers: DSU 9 (B. Lebsock 2, Estes 2), NDSU 12 (Carlson 3, Vaughan 3). A–1,056.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549