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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 21 2012

Kolpack: Bison Sports Arena crowd treated to an all-too-real event

Fargo - The F-M Acro Team was its usual fabulous self, a halftime show that just never gets old. Next door at the Fargodome, word was the CM Punk vs. The Miz WWE steel cage match was a blockbuster.

About the only hitch, rumor has it, was somebody had the audacity to say it wasn’t real.

That wasn’t the case at a packed and very loud Bison Sports Arena. North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State: Now that was real.

It was real entertaining.

It was real drama.

It was a real overtime.

Another one, the third OT game in this series in the last four years. This time, the Jackrabbits finally broke a 10-game series losing streak taking a 91-88 victory before 5,011 fans.

“First of all, I shouldn’t get paid for having so much fun,” said NDSU head coach Saul Phillips, although not laughing about it. “It was as good of a college basketball game I’ve seen in a long time. Wolters made lot plays. My guy Taylor made a lot of plays. We have to get over a hump right now.”

That would by SDSU’s Nate Wolters vs. NDSU’s Taylor Braun.

That’s what this game came down to. Braun finished with 28 points, most coming during NDSU’s rally from 11 points down with six minutes remaining.

“How many times did we let Taylor Braun dribble down the floor and shoot a layup?” said SDSU head coach Scott Nagy.

Said Braun: “They were on their heels, so I was just trying to push it up.”

But Braun also fouled out in regulation after a Jackrabbits offensive rebound and his team trailing 85-83.

It may not have been the do-everything-right approach for Wolters, the best guard in the Summit League along with Oakland’s Reggie Hamilton, but it worked. He was 2 for 5 from the field, had three turnovers and missed the front end of a bonus free throw in the last 3:30 of regulation.

It was obvious the Jacks were either going to win or lose with the ball in his hands.

“There’s no better person to have the ball in his hands,” said SDSU forward Jordan Dykstra. “We feel a sense of ease. We’re used to it.”

It was probably a sense of relief for Wolters. He was 9 of 28 on Saturday bringing his three-year BSA total to 14 of 51 for 27 percent.

But he nailed both of his 3-pointers, one toward the end of regulation and one in overtime.

“We leave it in his hands,” Nagy said. “He made some knucklehead plays, but he makes more great plays.”

If you’re a hardcore NDSU fan, any distraction is a good thing this morning. Maybe take that football championship T-shirt out of the closet and lay it on the kitchen table.

In a span of five days, the Bison have lost the two games that count the most to its fans in the regular season. It started with the cold-shooting defeat at the University of North Dakota in their only meeting this season.

“Teams are going to go through ebbs and flows, and we’ve gone through two emotional nights in a row and come up empty,” Phillips said.

“Very frustrating,” Braun said, “but we can’t dwell on these two losses.”

The last time the Jacks won a game in this series seemingly was in the days of two referees for a college game. That, incidentally, is what ended up happening Saturday when official Greg Langsdorf left in the first half with an illness.

“They worked extremely hard,” Phillips said of officials. “That’s a tough situation for those guys to be in. Reffing is all angles, and they battled hard out there.”

The players. The refs. The fans. The coaches. Everybody battled hard.

It was real.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia