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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 21 2012

Bison pick up 10th win heading into Summit play

FARGO – Morehead State (Ky.) came to the Bison Sports Arena on Friday night leading NCAA Division I men’s basketball in personal fouls. The Eagles almost maintained pace in that department, but lost in the one that counts: victories.

The Ohio Valley Conference team, which came within three fouls of its 26 per game average, may have brought the heat on defense. NDSU brought the teamwork, and that was more than enough for a 69-49 win before 2,214 fans.

It was the second time in just over two weeks the two teams played. The first ended in a huge MSU rally that the Bison fended off in a 69-57 NDSU road win. This one didn’t have that kind of suspense.

“They’re a high-pressure team, and we did a good job not letting emotions get to us,” said Bison forward Taylor Braun.

It was the last nonconference game for the Bison before Summit League play begins in earnest next weekend. NDSU heads in with a 10-3 record and a sense of steadiness with its lineup.

Center Marshall Bjorklund and Braun led the way with 20 and 19 points, respectively. But, like so many times so far this season, the contributions came from all corners.

“I’m glad the Mayans weren’t right, because I want to play this season out,” said Bison head coach Saul Phillips. “I feel good on how we’ve gotten (to 10 wins). I feel good how different kids have stepped up. We’re a team of teammates and not individuals.”

Those teammates forged a 16-point lead in the early minutes of the second half and, like the last time the teams played, were in complete control. There was just one minor threat.

The Eagles rattled across nine straight to pull within 45-38 with 12 minutes remaining. But NDSU threw a run of its own outscoring MSU 11-2.

A key stretch came with Kory Brown in the middle of it. His jumper made it 51-38. After a turnover on the other end, his perfect half-court pass to a sprinting Braun ended in a Braun dunk.

“I’m still a defensive guy, but if there’s an open look, I’ll take it,” Brown said.

Considering the frantic pace the Eagles threw at Brown, the freshman handled himself like a veteran.

“I get it from the other guys,” he said. “I knew what was coming from them from the last time we played them. Just be strong with the basketball.”

NDSU finished shooting 56 percent from the field and held yet another team to less than 50 points.

MSU’s leading scorer Milton Chavis, averaging 13.2 points, did not play because of coach’s decision.

MSU (5-7): Percell 0-1 0-0 0, Posthumus 4-7 6-8 14, Atkinson 4-6 0-0 9, Warner 3-7 4-4 10, Stickler 1-3 0-0 2, Kelly 0-1 0-0 0, Lewis-Briggs 1-9 6-6 8, Stokes 0-0 0-0 0, Turner 1-4 0-1 2, James 1-6 0-0 2, Holmes 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 16-46 16-19 49.

NDSU (10-3): Wright 3-5 0-0 6, Bjorklund 8-8 4-5 20, Alexander 4-9 2-2 12, Brown , Braun 5-8 7-9 19, Felt , Zastrow , VandeBergh 0-1 0-0 0, Kading , Aaberg 0-0 0-0 0, Newell 0-0 0-0 0, Mauch 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-43 17-20 69.

Halftime: NDSU 34, MSU 22. Total fouls: MSU 23, NDSU 15. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: MSU 22 (Posthumus 8); NDSU 31 (Bjorklund 9). 3-point goals: MSU 1-13 (Atkinson 1-2, Warner 0-2, Stickler 0-1, Kelly 0-1, Lewis-Briggs 0-4, Turner 0-2, James 0-1); NDSU 4-16 (Wright 0-1, Alexander 2-6, Braun 2-4, Felt 0-3, Kading 0-1). Assists: MSU 7 (Warner 2); NDSU 12 (Alexander 5). Turnovers: MSU 14 (Lewis-Briggs 4); NDSU 14 (Alexander 4). A-2,214.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia