SDSU holds on for overtime win, snaps losing streak to NDSU

Marcus Traxler

After six years, the Jackrabbits have thrown the proverbial monkey off their back.

NDSU rallied from 11 points down to force overtime, but the Jacks hit 12 free throws in those extra five minutes and held on for a furious 91-88 win at the Bison Sports Arena on Saturday night.

It is the first time since 2006 that SDSU has defeated the Bison, and the first time in Fargo since 2005. More importantly, it puts the Jackrabbits at 8-1 in the Summit League and two games ahead of their rival in the conference standings for second place.

“We have two more next week, and to stay in the conference championship race, we have to win these and we have to win the close games,” SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said. “That’s everyone’s goals, and in order to stay in the race, we have to stay with them.”

The boisterous fans of each team among the 5,011 in Fargo’s fieldhouse certainly rode the ups and downs as the lead changed hands six times, four of those in overtime.

SDSU held separate 11-point leads in the second half before the Bison rallied and ultimately tied the game at 76 with a tough layup by Braun, eight seconds remaining in regulation. SDSU ran Nate Wolters up the right sideline, giving him a chance to fire a potential game-winning three-pointer. But it rimmed out, sending the game to overtime.

The Jacks took the lead for good when Callahan made a pair of free throws to put the Jacks ahead 85-83 with 1:42 left. Brown and Wolters traded missed three-pointers before Braun fouled out and Chad White put the Jacks ahead for good with two free throws with 40 seconds left, helping to seal the Jacks’ first win at the BSA since 2005.

“We got together as a team and just held our composure,” Griffan Callahan said. “It got loud in there and we just communicated and executed our plays.”

SDSU was able to build an eight point lead heading into halftime with a strong defensive effort as well as forcing NDSU to turn it over eight times in the first half.

“It’s such a strange game because in the first half nobody could score and in the second half nobody could get stops,” Nagy said.

Both teams found their go-to players in the second half. Wolters scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half. SDSU routinely let their junior point guard drive to the basket at will and either pass or kick to an open shooter.

“There is no better person to have the ball in his hands. When you have someone like Nate trying to find you it helps,” Jordan Dykstra said.

That method helped the Jackrabbits make 11 three-pointers in the rivalry contest.

“We kind of did it the whole game, and we normally don’t do that, but you could tell that Nate was sort of feeling it,” Nagy said.

NDSU gave Braun a similar leeway to Wolters, letting him run the floor. It paid off as he finished with a game-high 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Neither player was able to do it on his own. The Jacks got big help from Dykstra, who finished the game with 20 points, and Callahan, who beat the Bison for the first time in his five-year SDSU career with 19 points, including six free throws in the overtime session.

“Last year was kind of an embarrassing loss here and it was nice to get over that hurdle here and beat them, period,” Wolters said. “It’s a big win for us.”

Now, the drought is off the minds of many.

“It’s always in your head that we have lost to them however many times we did,” Callahan said. “It’s about getting over it. Enough is enough.”