Jackrabbits Buried By Red Hot Bison In Fargo
It was billed as a match-up of the two best teams in the Summit League in Fargo Saturday, with second place South Dakota State - winners of six straight - going against first place North Dakota State - winners of four straight, but in the end, there was no doubt who the cream of the conference crop was.
The Bison, the top shooting team in all of Division I, showed why, hitting at a 54 percent clip in the first half, opening up a 15-point lead at intermission, leading by as many as 20 in the second half, before rolling to a 74-59 win in front of a sell out crowd of 5,614 in Fargo - the largest in five years.
While NDSU was solid from the field, the Jackrabbits got off to a shaky start and never recovered. SDSU hit just 7-of-25 in the first half (28%) and went through a stretch of more than six minutes without a field goal. Jordan Dykstra was the only offensive bright spot for the Jacks in the first half, scoring seven points on 3-of-5 shooting. The rest of the SDSU starters were 2-of-16 in the first 20 minutes for just 5 points. Cody Larson had an especially difficult time with the NDSU post defense, making just 1-of-8 shots in the first half.
The Jackrabbits held their own on the boards in the first half, grabbing 14 while allowing 18, but at times SDSU crashed the boards so intently that NDSU had some easy fast break points at the other end. 33-18 Bison at intermission. The 18 points the fewest for the Jacks in a half in seven seasons.
TrayVonn Wright led the Bison at the break with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting. Marshall Bjorklund, tops in field goal shooting in the nation, had eight points on 4-of-7 shooting.
SDSU seemed to find some accuracy early in the second half, hitting 2-of-4 to start, but NDSU was even better hitting 3 of their first four, including a pair of 3-pointers to stretch the lead to as many as 20.
The Jacks were able to chip away without Dykstra and Chad White who both fouled out midway through the second half, as Marcus Heemstra and Jake Bittle combined for 15 points as SDSU was within 10 with 3:25 left.
But that would be as close as it got.
NDSU shot 54 percent for the game, SDSU 33 percent. The rebounding battle that was supposed to be a major factor in the game was a wash: Bison 33 Jacks 32.
North Dakota State did their damage without the help of the Summit League's leading scorer Taylor Braun, who didn't have a made basket until 38 minutes were gone. Braun had 30 for the Bison in the first meeting with SDSU.
Wright led the home team with 20 points, Bjorklnd added 18.
Larson did have 11 points to lead the Jacks, but finished just 3-of-14 from the field. Dykstra and Brayden Carlson each had 10.
With the win, North Dakota State clinches at least a share of the Summit League regular season championship.
South Dakota State (16-11/8-4) closes out the regular season at home next week with Denver Thursday and South Dakota Saturday.