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Bison clip Western Illinois on the road in men's hoops

MACOMB, Ill. - With a young team, a conference win on the road does not require style points. That's a good thing, because it was not pretty for North Dakota State at Western Illinois on Sunday, but fortunately for the Bison, in victory, looks do...

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North Dakota State’s Lawrence Alexander goes up for a shot against Western Illinois on Sunday in Macomb. Scott Holland / Special to The Forum

MACOMB, Ill. – With a young team, a conference win on the road does not require style points.
That’s a good thing, because it was not pretty for North Dakota State at Western Illinois on Sunday, but fortunately for the Bison, in victory, looks do not matter. North Dakota State (16-7, 7-2 Summit League) held off Western Illinois (8-12, 3-6) in the closing seconds, winning 64-62.
“It’s a resilient group of guys and they were able to find a way,” North Dakota State head coach Dave Richman said of his team. “It’s not always the prettiest thing, we have so much youth and inexperience that we’re learning on the fly, but we’re learning and winning and that’s a big deal.”
Points were hard to come by as each team relied on its calling cards – strong defense.
With the first shot not falling, the Bison hit the offensive glass to extend possessions. North Dakota State had 13 offensive rebounds, leading to 11 second-chance points and to several Western Illinois fouls.
“We had to get as many possessions as we could, all of them count on the road, especially against a team like Western Illinois,” said NDSU’s Chris Kading, who had six of his eight rebounds on the offensive end. “It’s never easy to win here or on the road in conference, so you have to hit the boards and get in the lane because it is a battle.”
Kading and his teammates hit the offensive glass at the most important time, in the final minute of the game.
On the second-to-last Bison possession, North Dakota State had three offensive rebounds, eventually drawing a foul on a missed free throw. The Bison ended the possession with a free throw by Kory Brown (team-high 17 points) that put North Dakota State up 63-61 with 52 seconds remaining.
“A lot of us wanted to get the game over and done with, so we attacked the glass strong all night. That was a big point for us,” Brown said. “Chris Kading and even A.J. Jacobson (eight rebounds, 11 points) attacked the glass hard, especially Chris.
“He had a nice rebound on a free throw I missed and ended up getting fouled.”
Despite the second looks, the Bison still had to get the job done on defense, as Western Illinois stayed within reach the entire game.
North Dakota State led by 11 early in the second half, but the Leathernecks had a chance to take the lead late in the game, trailing 63-62 and holding possession of the ball.
Western Illinois’ J.C. Fuller went to the basket, but the Bison made the stop with Kading standing in Fuller’s way at the basket. Kading made the steal and hit one free throw to give the game its final score.
“We were prepared for a similar play to that, but in that spot, we always just guard the ball and sit down in that situation,” Kading said.
NDSU: Jacobson 4-13 0-0 11, Kading 4-5 4-7 12, Alexander 6-12 0-0 14, Dupree 2-8 2-2 6, Brown 4-8 8-12 17, Miller 0-4 0-0 0, Werner 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 22-55 14-21 64.
WIU: Stensgaard 2-6 1-6 5, Conde 3-4 0-0 6, Sandifer 3-5 3-4 10, Fuller 4-12 3-5 12, Covington 4-12 3-3 13, Batish 4-6 0-0 12, Ancrum, 1-3 2-2 4. Totals 21-48 12-20 62.
Half: NDSU 36, WIU 29. 3-point goals: NDSU 6-16 (Jacobson 3-8, Alexander 2-3, Brown 1-4, Miller 0-1), WIU 8-15 (Sandifer 1-1, Fuller 1-4, Covington 2-5, Batish 4-5). Total fouls: NDSU 16, WIU 16. Fouled out: Stensgaard. Rebounds: NDSU 37 (three with 8), WIU 32 (Stensgaard 9). Assists: NDSU 10 (Brown 4), WIU 14 (Fuller 4). Steals: NDSU 7 (Kading 2), WIU 3 (three with 1). Turnovers: NDSU 7, WIU 10. A: 530.

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