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Eric Peterson, Published January 21 2012

Jackrabbits break through against Bison

FARGO – South Dakota State got the Bison off its back Saturday night at the Bison Sports Arena.

After blowing a six-point lead in the final minute of regulation, the Jackrabbits regrouped in overtime to earn a dramatic 91-88 victory against North Dakota State in Summit League men’s basketball before 5,011 fans.

SDSU snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Bison. The Jackrabbits hadn’t beat NDSU since Feb. 18, 2006, a 67-65 win at Frost Arena in Brookings.

“It’s always in your head that we have lost to them however many times we did,” said SDSU senior forward Griffan Callahan, who finished with 19 points. “It’s just about getting over it. Enough is enough,”

NDSU (13-6, 6-3 Summit) lost to a rival for the second time this week. The University of North Dakota beat the Bison 59-54 Tuesday in Grand Forks.

“We can’t dwell on these losses,” said Bison sophomore Taylor Braun, who finished with a game-high 28 points.

“I applaud our guys’ relentlessness,” NDSU head coach Saul Phillips said. “We’ve got to get over a little bit of a hump right now. The fire is there.”

SDSU built a 64-53 lead after guard Chad White drained a 17-foot jumper with 5 minutes, 55 seconds remaining.

The Jackrabbits took a 74-68 lead after junior guard Nate Wolters looped the ball around his back en route to a transition layup with 1:08 remaining.

The Bison, however, didn’t fade.

Braun fueled a furious comeback at the end of regulation.

“We kind of let that slip away there,” SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said.

Braun scored six points in the final minute of the second half. The 6-foot-7 forward tied the score at 76-76 with 8 seconds remaining on a drive to the basket, a hoop that would force overtime.

“I think they were kind of playing on their heels a little bit because they didn’t want to foul,” said Braun, who also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

Braun scored the first four points in overtime. His 17-foot jumper gave NDSU an 80-76 lead with 4:08 to play in overtime. Those hoops gave the Bison their first lead since the first nine minutes of the first half.

“I did think there was a large amount of pride, whatever generated that, that brought us back,” Phillips said.

Unlike the 10 previous meetings, SDSU found a way to win this time. The Jackrabbits countered with a 13-3 run, sparked by a Wolters 3-pointer.

“Our kids did a good job of not caving in,” Nagy said.

SDSU sank 12 of 14 free throws in overtime to ice the outcome. Braun fouled out with 40 seconds remaining in overtime, fouling White on a scramble for a key offensive rebound. White drained the two resulting foul shots to give his team an 87-83 lead.

“That was probably the biggest play of the game for us,” Nagy said.

SDSU scored 10 of the final 12 points in the first half to build an eight-point lead through 20 minutes. Callahan drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with two seconds remaining in the opening half, staking SDSU to a 29-21 lead. That burst made the Bison play catch-up the entire second half.

“That’s as good of a college basketball game as I’ve seen in a long time,” Phillips said.

SDSU (16-5, 8-1 Summit): Callahan 4-10 8-9 19, Fiegen 2-3 2-2 6, Dykstra 6-8 5-6 20, Wolters 9-28 7-10 27, Carlson 3-4 0-0 8, Prince 0-0 0-0 0, White 3-5 4-7 11. Totals 27-58 26-34 91.

NDSU (13-6, 6-3): Wright 5-9 5-5 16, Bjorklund 3-7 1-2 7, Hale 3-8 3-3 11, Alexander 5-10 4-4 14, Braun 12-20 2-3 28, Felt 1-6 0-0 2, Lindberg 1-2 0-0 3, Lundberg 1-1 0-0 3, Zastrow 0-0 0-0 0, Carlson 1-2 0-0 2, Aaberg 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 33-66 15-17 88.

Half: SDSU 29, NDSU 21. 3-point goals: SDSU 11-24 (Callahan 3-7, Dykstra 3-4, Wolters 2-9, Carlson 2-2, White 1-2), NDSU 7-19 (Wright 1-2, Hale 2-6, Alexander 0-1, Braun 2-4, Felt 0-4, Lindberg 1-1, Lundberg 1-1). Total fouls: SDSU 18, NDSU 23. Fouled out: Alexander, Braun. Rebounds: SDSU 28 (Wolters 7), NDSU 38 (Braun 12). Assists: SDSU 16 (Wolters 7), NDSU 18 (Hale 4, Alexander 4). Steals: SDSU 6 (Wolters 3), NDSU 6 (three players with 2). Turnovers: SDSU 9 (Wolters 3), NDSU 16 (Hale 4, Braun 4).

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com