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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 26 2013

Big second half lifts South Dakota State over NDSU

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The first half was a North Dakota State road game masterpiece. The second half was a white out, and we all know what happens when a blizzard hits in the Dakotas.

The Bison couldn’t see the road, much less the basket. South Dakota State more than doubled NDSU’s output in the final 20 minutes to take a 69-53 men’s basketball victory before a sold out 6,063 white towel-waving fans at Frost Arena. The result left both teams at 7-2 in the Summit, a half-game behind league leader Western Illinois.

As if the news couldn’t get any worse for the Bison with starting forward Taylor Braun out with a broken foot, starting forward TrayVonn Wright was to have an injured ankle X-rayed later Saturday night, said head coach Saul Phillips.

“Feet are not our friends,” he said.

Wright appeared to roll his foot while going up for an uncontested dunk with just 1:16 left in the game. It was a fitting end to a second half that saw the Bison get outscored 38-16. It was also the second straight road game where the Bison dropped a halftime lead.

“I guess I couldn’t tell you what the reason for that is,” said Bison center Marshall Bjorklund. “It’s just how it goes on the road. We have to withstand some of their runs on the road.”

SDSU’s defense on Bjorklund was a major reason. It held the big center, who is leading Division I in field goal percentage, to one bucket in just three tries. The Jacks didn’t hesitate to double team Bjorklund, which he said more teams have been doing lately.

“Since Taylor has been out, I’ve seen it a lot more,” he said.

But SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said he would have done that anyway, whether Braun was playing or not. It’s an adjustment also meant for other big centers in the Summit, he said.

“One thing about Marshall is how good a passer, decision maker and how patient he is,” Nagy said. “We just don’t have the beef inside to deal with him and we have to do other things.”

The Bison spread the offensive wealth around in the first half in taking a 37-31 halftime lead. Two factors led to that margin: SDSU leading scorer Nate Wolters was just 3 of 10 shooting and the Bison held a 19-10 rebounding advantage with Bjorklund having nine of those.

“I was ecstatic being down six, it felt more like 20,” Nagy said. “They took it to us.”

It was NDSU’s best first half at Frost since 2007 when it led 38-33.

The good vibe didn’t last. The Bison started the second half hitting just one of their first 11 shots and it didn’t take long for the Jacks to take control. A 17-0 run that Wolters started with a 3-pointer made it 50-40 with 10 minutes remaining.

“We just played harder,” Wolters said. “We really locked in on defense and we’re at our best when we’re getting stops and getting out and run.”

It was the second straight loss for the Bison, with the other at first-place Western Illinois. A common denominator besides good opponent defense: free throw output. NDSU went 7 of 10 from the line in those two games while its opponents were a combined 37 of 56.

“Yeah,” Phillips said, before pausing. “We have to get better. We have to move our feet better, not reach as much. … but I like my wallet intact.”

NDSU (16-5, 7-2 Summit): Wright 7-13 0-0 16, Bjorklund 1-3 2-2 4, Felt 4-0 0-0 12, Alexander 4-11 1-3 9, Brown 3-7 0-0 6, Zastrow 1-2 0-0 3, VandenBergh 1-3 0-0 3, Kading 0-1 0-0 0, Aaberg 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-50 3-5 53.

SDSU (16-6, 7-2 Summit): Fiegen 6-10 2-2 14, Dykstra 5-9 3-4 14, Wolters 7-16 9-11 26, Carlson 3-6 1-1 8, White 2-6 1-2 7, Bittle 0-0 0-0 0, Heemstra 0-2 0-0 0, Horstman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-49 16-20 69.

Halftime: NDSU 37, SDSU 31. Total fouls: NDSU 20, SDSU 10. Fouled out: Brown. Rebounds: NDSU 29 (Bjorklund 13); SDSU 30 (Fiegen 7). 3-point goals: NDSU 8-21 (Wright 2-5, Felt 4-8, Alexander 0-2, Zastrow 1-2, VandenBergh 1-2, Kading 0-1); SDSU 7-16 (Dykstra 1-2, Wolters 3-5, Carlson 1-4, White 1-2); Assists: NDSU 11 (Bjorklund, Brown 3); SDSU 10 (Wolters 4). Turnovers: NDSU 12 (Bjorklund 4); SDSU 9 (Wolters 3). A-6,063.

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

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia