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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 16 2013

Braun leads North Dakota State to convincing win over Delaware

FARGO – North Dakota State head basketball coach Saul Phillips did some frequent flier calculations on his team’s air miles this season. The total heading into Monday was 30,000, which he made note is 12,000 short of a flight around the world.

If there was any jet lag in the Bison players against the University of Delaware, it wasn’t noticeable. They got back into Fargo late Sunday afternoon – the Blue Hens beat them here – and proceeded to stick an 85-66 loss on the visitors before 3,014 fans at the Bison Sports Arena.

“We’ve been grinding, going every which way, every place you can imagine,” said NDSU guard Taylor Braun. “It’s just nice to be back.”

It can only help NDSU’s Division I RPI ranking of No. 36, the highest in school history. NDSU improved to 8-4 with three of those defeats to Saint Mary’s (8-0), Southern Mississippi (9-1) and Ohio State (10-0).

“I’m looking at 8-4 but we could be 4-8 if we weren’t playing at a high level right now,” Phillips said. “A really, really special performance out of this group tonight.”

Special, he said, because NDSU had about one hour of preparation time for Delaware. First semester final exams are also this week.

Braun wasn’t fazed. The senior scored 33 points and hardly looked tired despite playing 37 of the 40 minutes.

Center Marshall Bjorklund played fresh. He had 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Asked where NDSU’s energy came from, Phillips said, “I don’t know, maybe they were too tired to lose.”

The road trip that started Tuesday last week was long. For Delaware, the first six minutes of the second half probably seemed like six days. NDSU held it scoreless until Devon Saddler’s basket with 14 minutes, 24 seconds remaining.

“A lot of credit goes to North Dakota State, I thought they were really, really sharp tonight,” said Blue Hens head coach Monte Ross. “We weren’t sharp and I think a lot of it had to do with them.”

The Bison, meanwhile, were doing all sorts of crowd-pleasing plays. There was Braun’s rebound slam dunk to open the second half.

There was Kory Brown’s steal and dunk. Braun and Bjorklund turned in consecutive slams and it was 55-35.

The Blue Hens never got that advantage under double digits. Like NDSU, Delaware is a road-happy team playing 11 of its first 13 away from home.

“When you’re playing, you get in a groove so I’m not surprised,” Ross said of NDSU playing sharp despite its schedule. “They’re an older, experienced team and sometimes you worry when you travel with a younger group.”

DELAWARE (5-5): King-Davis 1-1 2-2 5, Baptiste 6-11 0-0 12, Usher 2-13 3-3 8, Threatt 5-14 0-2 10, Anderson 2-10 2-3 7, Saddler 9-13 3-5 24, Pinkard 0-1 0-0 0, Hayes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-63 11-17 66.

NDSU (8-4): Wright 3-7 0-0 8, Bjorklund 7-10 2-5 16, Alexander 3-9 5-7 11, Brown 2-2 3-4 7, Braun 9-14 13-15 33, Felt 0-2 2-2 2, Dupree 1-2 1-2 3, Kading 2-2 0-0 5, Aaberg 0-1 0-0 0, Newell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 27-51 26-35 85.

Halftime: NDSU 43, UD 33. Total fouls: UD 24, NDSU 19. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: UD 29 (Baptiste 9); NDSU 38 (Bjorklund 9). 3-point goals: UD 5-22 (Usher 1-8, Threatt 0-2, Anderson 1-4, Saddler 3-7, Pinkard 0-1); NDSU 5-17 (Wright 2-3, Alexander 0-3, Braun 2-5, Felt 0-1, Newell 0-2, Dupree 0-1, Kading 1-1). Assists: UD 7 (Threatt 4); NDSU 13 (Alexander, Brown 4). Turnovers: UD 11 (Baptiste 5); NDSU 10 (Bjorklund, Alexander 3). A-3,014.

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


Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia