Bison prove too much for Jacks at home

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

At the 35th Annual Pork Classic, and the 192nd meeting between the North Dakota State University Bison and the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits, the Bison defeated the Jacks, 78-60.

The win marked the first victory ever in Frost Arena for Bison Head Coach Tim Miles, previously 0-5 in Brookings.

“It’ll (the win) probably mean a lot more to me on the golf course this summer, when I can shut up all my golf buddies,” Miles said.

Saturday night’s game marked the first time the Jacks lost to the Bison at the Pork Classic. They had gone 3-0 against the Bison in previous matchups.

NDSU turned in an incredible shooting performance during the game, hitting 59.6 percent from the field and 70 percent from beyond the arc to secure the victory. The Bison started the game out hot, hitting 14 of their first 19 shots (73.7 percent), and building a 14-point lead.

The Bison cooled off toward the end of the half, only hitting two of their last six shots. The Jacks pulled to within five points on a three at the end of the half by Mackenzie Casey.

The Jacks nailed four of six first-half three pointers, while nabbing seven offensive rebounds. Kai Williams paced the Jacks in the first half with 11 points, connecting on all four of his free throws.

Three players dominated the first half for the Bison. Brett Winkleman, Ben Woodside and Mike Nelson combined for 35 of the Bison’s 38 first half points.

The second half began with SDSU scoring first, bringing them to within three points on Matt Cadwell’s first points of the game. Cadwell struggled all game, scoring only six points on 2-12 shooting.

The teams traded buckets, but NDSU went on a 23-8 run to put the game away. Winkelman and Nelson capped the run with three-point baskets, giving the Bison an 18-point lead. Nelson went 4-4 from beyond the arc. He led all scores in the game, netting 24 points.

“For me, knocking down the first couple gets me going ? It just felt good coming off the finger tips tonight,” he said.

The Jacks had lost their first-half momentum, and the Bison eventually pushed the lead to 19 points, while the Jacks never got closer than 13.

“With Mac knocking down that shot, that really gave us momentum going into halftime. We just had to come out in the second half and capitalize on that, and we really didn’t do that,” Williams said.

The torrid Bison shooting was too much for the Jacks to overcome.

“I thought we defended the inside really well. They just shot the heck out of the basketball. They just have some very good offensive players,” said SDSU Head Coach Scott Nagy.

Defensively, the Bison played almost as well as they did offensively.

“Just as soon as you get past one defender, there is another one stepping in. Their rotations are really good. They’re tough on the ball. They’re just a tough team all around on defense,” Williams said.

Because of the tough Bison defense, the Jacks were unable to get many open looks at the basket.

“We didn’t have very good penetration tonight. When that happens, nobody needs to rotate and there’s not going to be open shooters,” Jacks guard Andy Keinjan said.

A tough Bison opponent was not the only thing the Jacks had to struggle against in the game. Two of their three leading scorers, Cadwell and Garrett Callahan, struggled all night long. The two starting guards combined for only 10 points, hitting only three shots from the floor.

“We’re just not going to win any games-I don’t care if we’re playing NDSU or anybody else-when Matt and Garrett struggled like they did,” Nagy said.

Williams finished the game with 17 points, while Michael Loney chipped in eight and Mackenzie Casey added 10 off the bench.

“I thought Kai and Michael played fantastic, and Garrett and Matt just struggled. Our guys off the bench played OK. I thought they did a nice job,” Nagy said.

In the end, not even a crowd of 4,131 could cheer the Jacks on to victory against a quality Bison basketball team.

“You don’t win games on emotion. You win them on good basketball playing. They just played better than we did,” Nagy said.