Jeff Kolpack, Published March 20 2014
Bison stun Oklahoma for OT win in NCAA tournament
Freshman Carlin Dupree, in the game only because Bison star Taylor Braun fouled out, hit two free throws and a key basket in overtime and the Bison won an NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament game Round of 64 for the Summit League for the first time since 1998.
The 80-75 win over No. 5 seed Oklahoma in the West Region second round was stunning in its theater.
“The atmosphere was 100 times greater than what I expected,” Braun said. “The intensity, everything about the game, was unbelievable. We stuck together as a team.”
The Bison advance to play No. 4-seed San Diego State at 5:10 p.m. CDT Saturday in a game to be carried on TNT. SDSU beat No. 13 New Mexico State in another overtime thriller, 73-69, late Thursday night.
Earlier in the day in this building, No. 12 seed Harvard knocked off No. 5 Cincinnati in an East Region game that had the local Spokane crowd generally rooting for the Crimson. They really got on the Bison bandwagon a few hours later.
“It was kind of cool to see the whole arena behind us,” said center Marshall Bjorklund. “It was pretty nuts.”
With Braun having fouled out in overtime, Dupree hit two free throws with 1 minute, 14 seconds left and NDSU led 74-72. His shot in traffic with 40 seconds left made it a four-point advantage. After another OU miss, Lawrence Alexander capped his monster 28-point night with two free throws for a 78-72 advantage with 32 seconds remaining.
“It was a tough game not to win,” said Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger. “Credit North Dakota State. They did what they needed to do down the stretch. I thought our guys fought like crazy the last 25 minutes in regulation to get in position to win the game.”
The game was tight the entire way. The Bison led 61-57 when Cameron Clark went to work for Oklahoma. His 3-pointer with 2:03 remaining started eight straight OU points.
Braun stopped it with two free throws with 32 seconds left to bring NDSU within 65-63. Isaiah Cousins made 1 of 2 free throws for OU, giving NDSU a chance.
It cashed in. Alexander’s 3-pointer with 11 seconds left ignited the arena crowd and tied it.
The play, Alexander said, was drawn up to go to Braun. But the Bison senior instead got the assists to Alexander.
“Coming out of the huddle, I told him if you don’t have anything, I’ll be out there on the right wing,” Alexander said.
After the game, Braun said he could hear Alexander yell “buckets” before it went in.
“L.A. hit a game winner his freshman year at Oakland, and I’ve kind of always trusted him when it came down to it,” Phillips said.
OU had three shots to win it with Buddy Hield having the best look from the corner, but NDSU survived the flurry.
“It was upsetting to miss those three shots, but we were still pumped up to get to overtime,” said OU forward Ryan Spangler.
But NDSU hit 4 of 6 field goals in overtime and all six of its free throws. For the game, the Bison were 20 of 22.
It left another No. 5 seed on the losing end.
“There are so many good teams. The quality and depth is as good as it’s ever been,” Kruger said. “Harvard had a close ballgame. Ours was a close ballgame. There’s not much difference in the ballclubs.”
NDSU (26-6): Wright 4-9 4-4 14, Bjorklund 4-7 5-7 13, Alexander 10-15 4-4 28, Brown 3-5 0-0 6, Braun 3-11 5-5 11, Felt 0-0 0-0 0, Dupree 1-1 2-2 4, Kading 1-1 0-0 2, Aaberg 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 27-51 20-22 80.
OU (23-10): Spangler 1-5 1-2 3, Clark 9-21 4-5 25, Hield 4-14 0-0 9, Woodard 3-9 5-7 13, Cousins 5-12 3-4 17, Booker 1-3 0-0 3, Hornbeak 0-1 0-0 0, Neal 1-5 0-0 3, Bennett 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 25-72 13-18 80.
Halftime: NDSU 37, OU 29. Total fouls: NDSU 20, OU 16. Fouled out: Brown, Braun. Rebounds: NDSU 38 (Alexander 8); OU 37 (Cousins 8). 3-point goals: NDSU 6-14 (Wright 2-4, Alexander 4-7, Braun 0-3); OU 12-30 (Clark 3-5, Hield 1-9, Woodard 2-3, Cousins 4-5, Booker 1-3, Hornbeak 0-1, Neal 1-4). Assists: NDSU 12 (Alexander 4); OU 14 (three with 3). Turnovers: NDSU 15 (Bjorklund, 4); OU 10 (Spangler 3).
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia