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WATCH THE FINISH: ND junior college team loses 2 OT game with 2 players on court at end

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United Tribes has just two players on the court against the five of Dakota College Bottineau in the final minute of the game.2 / 3
United Tribes of Bismarck finished Wednesday's double overtime game against Dakota College Bottineau with just two players. Bottineau won the game 156-154 in double overtime (the scoreboard shows 158, but a late basket was waived off). Courtesy Matthew Semisch / Bottineau Courant 3 / 3

BOTTINEAU, N.D. – The hockey phrase “power play” doesn’t get thrown around often in basketball circles. But it was on Wednesday night.

Not much was typical about Dakota College at Bottineau’s 158-154 double-overtime victory over United Tribes in the NJCAA Region 13 men’s semifinals.

United Tribes, which lost two regular-season games against DCB earlier this year by a combined 46 points, came into the postseason opener with five available players. United Tribes finished the game playing 5-on-2 after three players fouled out.

“Chaos,” DCB sophomore guard Brian Egejuru said of playing 5-on-2 near the end of the game. “I didn’t even know you were allowed to play with two players.”

The Thunderbirds faced a similar problem in Bottineau on Jan. 11 when they had no substitute players and fell 106-96 to the Lumberjacks. In a 126-90 loss to the Jacks on Feb. 4 in Bismarck, United Tribes dressed two subs.

The difference between that meeting in January and the regional semifinal: None of the United Tribes starters fouled out of that first game.

And yet, despite having to play Wednesday’s final 56.5 seconds with two players on the court, United Tribes hardly deserved to lose the game. The Thunderbirds led by as many as 20 points early in the second half, they scored 63 second-half points and – after DCB made the deficit manageable – United Tribes’ Keif Williams fouled out of the game with 13.2 seconds left in regulation.

Making the subsequent numerical advantage count, though, was easier said than done.

“It’s hard to play 5-on-4 or 5-on-3,” DCB head coach Brandon Colvin said. “It’s one of the hardest things to do because one guy’s running around (when it’s 5-on-4) not knowing what to do, and that’s where you give Tribes credit.”

Matthew Semisch is the sports editor for the Bottineau (N.D.) Courant newspaper