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Forum staff reports , Published December 05 2012

Pair of big runs push NDSU to men's basketball victory

MOREHEAD, Ky. – Throughout Wednesday’s men’s basketball game, North Dakota State faced Morehead State’s full-court press defense. And just as the pressure comes in waves, so too did the runs.

The Bison went on a 20-3 run in the first half and a 12-0 run to start the second half. Those two runs sparked NDSU to a 69-57 victory against Morehead State.

“It was very frenetic,” NDSU head coach Saul Phillips said of the Eagles’ press. “We didn’t handle it very well in the beginning. We handled it unbelievably well in the middle (of the game).”

Taylor Braun led the Bison with 23 points. He was 11-for-12 from the free-throw line, including hitting six in the final 1 minute, 6 seconds to preserve the victory.

“I think we were just being patient,” Braun said. “When a team presses like that, if you can get by that initial defender, it causes a lot of problems for the defense.”

NDSU carried a 33-19 lead into halftime, then scored the first 12 points of the second half to push its lead to 26.

The Bison were up by as many as 31 in the second half. But Phillips said MSU’s press got to NDSU late in the game, as the Eagles pulled to within 10 with just more than a minute to play.

“We knew this game was going to be something entirely different than what we faced before,” Braun said. “We tried the best to simulate it in practice, and it took us awhile to get adjusted to it.”

Marshall Bjorklund added eight points and 11 rebounds for the Bison (7-2), with seven of those rebounds coming on the offense.

Angelo Warner led the Eagles (4-5) with 14 points.

Next up for the Bison is a matchup with the University of North Dakota. The two teams meet at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Fargodome.

UND defeated NDSU 59-54 in the teams’ only meeting last season.

“I think it will be a very emotional game,” Braun said. “I know that we all remember what happened in Grand Forks last year. And we all have a bad taste in our mouths after a performance like that.”

The last time NDSU and UND faced each other in Fargo, an NDSU home-record crowd of 10,709 turned out in 2010.

“I expect a rivalry game,” Phillips said. “And that’s a lot of fun. I can’t wait. I’m very much looking forward to it, because of what it means to our fans.”

NDSU (7-2): Wright 3-5 0-0 6, Bjorklund 3-6 2-3 8, Alexander 3-6 0-1 8, Brown 1-5 2-2 4, Braun 6-17 11-12 23, Newell 0-0 1-2 1, Felt 3-6 0-0 9, Zastrow 1-2 0-0 3, VandenBergh 0-0 0-0 0, Kading 2-4 2-2 7, Aaberg 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-52 18-22 69.

MSU (4-5): Owens 1-2 0-0 2, Reed 2-4 2-4 6, Chavis 1-6 0-0 2, Atkinson 5-9 2-4 13, Warner 4-11 5-6 14, Kelly 0-2 2-2 2, Lewis-Briggs 0-0 0-0 0, Stokes 0-3 0-0 0, Turner 0-6 0-0 0, Percell 0-0 0-0 0, Posthumus 3-10 7-11 13, Stickler 1-3 1-2 3, James 1-3 0-0 2, Holmes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-59 19-29 57.

Halftime: NDSU 33, MSU 19. 3-Point Goals: NDSU. 7-19 (Felt 3-5, Alexander 2-5, Zastrow 1-2, Kading 1-3, Brown 0-1, Wright 0-1, Braun 0-2), MSU 2-17 (Atkinson 1-1, Warner 1-4, Kelly 0-1, James 0-1, Stokes 0-2, Chavis 0-3, Turner 0-5). Fouled Out: Bjorklund, Warner. Rebounds: NDSU 42 (Bjorklund 11), MSU 38 (Posthumus 9). Assists: NDSU 13 (Alexander, Brown 4), MSU 11 (Atkinson 4). Total Fouls: NDSU 23, MSU 20. A: 1,240.