Bison escape winners in conference opener

Drue Aman

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Drue AmanSports Editor

NDSU guard Nate Zastrow put his index finger over his mouth towards the SDSU student section after an assist to Eric Carlson late in the first half.

It was a demonstration of exactly what NDSU did – and has continued to do – at Frost Arena: quiet the crowd.

The Bison topped SDSU 82-75 for its ninth-consecutive win over the Jacks, winning the battle of the boards 55-37 and getting big plays when they needed them (and in superior athletic fashion) in front of 5,547 fans at Frost Arena Dec. 4.

“I thought when the game started, just looking out, I thought “I’ve seen this before,'” said SDSU head coach Scott Nagy, whose teams have now lost nine straight games to NDSU. “What would be considered big games, the energy is sucked out of our players … They badly want to beat NDSU, we were tight, you could just see it.”

It didn’t show on the scoreboard. SDSU got off to 9-2 lead early through five of Nate Wolters’ 36 points and two field goals by Clint Sargent. NDSU found a rhythm of their own and erased that deficit – in fact creating an eight-point lead in a span of six minutes. They took a nine-point lead into halftime while out-rebounding SDSU 31-20.

Things escalated in the second half, with SDSU erasing a nine-point halftime deficit in a matter of seven-and-a-half minutes, with the momentum swing reaching its height on a two-handed slam from Dale Moss courtesy of a misdirection pass by Wolters.

But NDSU answered every call for a big play, and freshman TreyVonn Wright did so with a spellbinding tip-in dunk that propelled NDSU into a 53-53 tie with 10:30 to go in the second half.

“It’s a big boost in momentum,” said Bison guard Eric Carlson of Wright’s towering put-back dunk. “That always picks you up, I can’t really explain it.”

Maybe intangibles like momentum from big plays played a heavy part in the Bison’s win, but tangibles – like a 55-37 NDSU rebounding edge and SDSU’s 37 percent shooting from the field – are damaging enough. Those 55 rebounds are the most the Jacks have allowed in a game since 1982. Wright’s three put-back dunks were only an added bonus.

“They beat us up and that was really the tale of the game,” said Sargent, who finished the night with 11 points but shot 1-for-10 from beyond the arc. “Too many second chances for him (Wright).”

Wolters’ performance of 36 points – the highest scoring output for a player in Frost Arena since 2004 – kept SDSU’s crowd and hopes for a comeback alive. Except Wolters was the only grabbing statistical performance. The next closest scorer was Sargent, and he finished 4-for-17 on the night.

“He was good tonight, but really he was the only one,” Nagy said of Wolters. “You can’t win games with one player; we tried to tonight and got exposed.”

Nagy also pointed out the 25 offensive rebounds for the Bison, including nine from Wright himself. That led to 28 second chance points for NDSU, compared to only 13 for the Jacks. The former nation’s leading three-point shooting team also went 7-for-27 from deep, the lowest percentage in a game this season.

SDSU also only led for six minutes, with Wright’s fierce putback dunk tying the game at 53 and slamming the Jacks’ time spent with a lead.

“SDSU didn’t give us this game,” said NDSU head coach Saul Phillips. “They kept coming and coming and coming; we had to make plays to win.”

#1.1825160:8191677.jpg:Ethan Swanson 4.jpg:Dale Moss skies for a shot over NDSU?s Michael Tveidt and Eric Carlson on Dec. 4 at Frost Arena. NDSU defeated SDSU, 82-75.:Collegian Photo by Ethan Swanson