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Eric Peterson, Published December 21 2013

Offense leads Bison past Towson at home

FARGO – North Dakota State hit offensive overdrive in the second half Saturday night at the Bison Sports Arena.

The Bison shot 72 percent from the field in the second half to earn a 90-82 victory against Towson University in Division I nonconference men’s basketball before 2,905 fans.

“We’re beating good teams,” Bison head coach Saul Phillips said. “That is a good sign.”

The Bison (9-4) have won seven of their last eight games with one game remaining until the New Year. NDSU plays at Utah Valley on Monday night.

“We haven’t won there as a program,” Phillips said of playing at Orem, Utah. “That bothers me.”

NDSU seniors Marshall Bjorklund and Taylor Braun proved to be a pain for Towson on Saturday.

The two combined for 56 points on 20-for-32 shooting from the field. The 6-foot-8 Bjorklund scored a career-high 28 points on 11-for-16 shooting from the floor.

“They’re old guys,” Phillips said of his two veterans. “They understand how a game works. You don’t see them force a lot of things.”

The Bison scored 55 points in the second half, sinking 18 of 25 shots from the field. Bison junior point guard Lawrence Alexander scored all 19 of his points in the second half. Braun had 17 points after halftime, while Bjorklund added 11 points over the final 20 minutes.

“We were being more aggressive,” Bjorklund said of the strong second half.

Towson took a 30-23 lead after senior Jerrelle Benimon drained a 15-foot jumper with 3 minutes, 58 seconds to play in the first half. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds.

The Bison countered with a 12-2 run to end the first half. Braun capped that surge with a coast-to-coast drive that resulted in a layup right before the halftime buzzer. That gave NDSU a 35-32 lead.

“That is something we shouldn’t have to wait to do,” said Bjorklund, who had 17 points in the first half.

The Bison trailed just once after halftime and led by as many as 10 points in the second half. Bjorklund had a key tip-in that gave NDSU an 81-72 lead with 1:25 remaining.

“Marsh is our anchor. That’s all there is to it,” Phillips said. “We had a hard time stopping them. They had a hard time stopping us.”

The two schools are also set to meet in football on Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas, in the FCS title game. Towson beat Eastern Washington 35-31 earlier in the day on Saturday in the FCS semifinals.

“We won Part 1,” Phillips said in Saturday’s postgame. “Let’s make it a Towson sweep.”

TOWSON (7-6): Damas 3-6 0-0 8, Parker-Rivera 4-8 3-5 11, Benimon 13-24 3-4 29, McGlynn 5-6 3-3 16, Burwell 3-6 6-8 12, Foster 0-1 1-2 1, Davis 0-2 2-2 2, Alston 0-0 0-0 0, Guthrie 1-6 1-2 3. Totals 29-59 19-26 82.

NDSU (9-4): Wright 1-6 2-2 4, Bjorklund 11-16 6-8 28, Alexander 5-8 6-6 19, Brown 3-3 3-3 9, Braun 9-16 9-16 28, Felt 0-2 0-0 0, Dupree 0-0 0-0 0, Kading 0-1 2-2 2, Aaberg 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-52 28-37 90.

Half: NDSU 35, TU 32. 3-point goals: TU 5-12 (Damas 2-3, Benimon 0-2, McGlynn 3-4, Burwell 0-1, Guthrie 0-2), NDSU 4-12 (Wright 0-2, Alexander 3-3, Braun 1-4, Felt 0-2, Kading 0-1). Total fouls: TU 26, NDSU 18. Fouled out: Parker-Rivera, Damas. Rebounds: TU 35 (Benimon 12), NDSU 27 (Braun 7). Assists: TU 8 (Burwell 3), NDSU 11 (Braun 4). Steals: TU 1 (Benimon), NDSU 7 (Bjorklund 2, Alexander 2). Turnovers: TU 11 (Benimon 6), NDSU 5 (Bjorklund 3).

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com