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Bison men rally to defeat UC Davis behind Ward, Miller

FARGO-California Davis had North Dakota State in a double-digit hole in the second half Wednesday night, Dec. 14. Which, based on recent history between these teams, is exactly where the Bison wanted the Aggies.It may not have been as dramatic as...

Khy Kabellis of North Dakota State University shoots at the basket past Brynton Lemar of UC Davis during the Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, game at the Scheels Center.Dave Wallis / The Forum
Khy Kabellis of North Dakota State University shoots at the basket past Brynton Lemar of UC Davis during the Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016, game at the Scheels Center. Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO-California Davis had North Dakota State in a double-digit hole in the second half Wednesday night, Dec. 14. Which, based on recent history between these teams, is exactly where the Bison wanted the Aggies.

It may not have been as dramatic as last year's men's basketball game at Davis, but it had some serious punch nonetheless. Yes, the Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Center can make a difference after all and the Bison took a 74-70 victory.

After not giving the home crowd much to cheer about for over a game and a half, a rash of 3-pointers in the last several minutes woke everybody up. Including the Bison shooters.

"Once you see one go in, the other guys get some confidence and the crowd gets into it," said Bison guard Paul Miller. "We fed off the energy of the crowd in the second half. We always say it takes one match to start a fire."

The first match was lit by freshman Tyson Ward, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 14-2 run that erased a 58-48 Davis lead. Miller followed with two deep 3s to keep the lead.

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"Give them credit, they made all the big plays at both ends of the court," said Davis head coach Jim Les.

It turned what was looking to be a potential comfortable Davis victory into a last-minute free-for-all. It was 72-70 and after both teams missed on their possession, a loose ball battle between Ward and Davis' Lawrence White went out of bounds and the Aggies were awarded the ball with 18 seconds left.

It also went to a video replay, an extensive one at that. But the call on the court stood.

NDSU's Dexter Werner still had something to say about it, however. He blocked Brynton Lemar's driving layup and NDSU's Khy Kabellis was fouled on the rebound with 14 seconds remaining. Khabellis hit both free throws and it was 74-70.

"We scrapped and clawed," said NDSU head coach Dave Richman. "We found a way. It wasn't pretty but with this group it was huge to find a way."

Miller found a way after going scoreless in a loss to the University of North Dakota and looking out of synch in the first half. He finished with a team-leading 17 points.

"I had been struggling pretty bad to shoot it from 3," Miller said. "It was about time one of those went down."

Davis forged a lead in the first half doing something NDSU couldn't do: put together a surge of offense. The Aggies hit five of six shots at one stretch in taking a 29-20 advantage, the last hoop a steal and dunk by forward Chima Moneke.

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At that point, the Bison weren't hesitating trying to find the right combination on the floor to find some sort of spark. It was 35-28, Davis, at halftime. The Aggies pushed that to double digits in the first couple of minutes and the Bison were in some serious catch-up mode.

Which is what NDSU, 7-4, ultimately accomplished.

Last year, trailing 69-60 with under two minutes remaining, the Bison scored 19 straight-the last nine to force overtime and first 10 of the extra session to win.

"We came back a little earlier this time," Miller said. "Hopefully we stop letting teams get these big leads."

UC DAVIS (5-6): Moneke 5-7 11-14 21, Lemar 7-14 4-4 22, White 3-6 0-0 1, Graham 2-6 0-0 6, Schneider 1-9 0-0 3, Hennings 0-1 0-0 0, Adenrele 5-7 1-2 11, Mooney 0-0 0-0 0, Henn 0-1 0-4 0. Totals: 23-51 16-25 70.

NDSU (7-4): Jacobson 1-1 2-2 5, D. Miller 3-4 0-0 6, P. Miller 5-12 4-6 17, Dupree 6-9 2-3 15, Kabellis 3-10 8-12 15, Samuelson 0-0 0-0 0, Geu 0-1 0-2 0, Ward 3-6 0-0 8, Werner 3-6 2-4 8. Totals: 24-49 18-29 74.

Halftime: Davis 35, NDSU 28. Total fouls: Davis 23, NDSU 19. Fouled out: Jacobson. Rebounds: Davis 36 (Adenrele 7); NDSU 27 (Werner 10). 3-point goals: Davis 8-23 (Lemar 4-7, White 1-2, Graham 2-6, Schneider 1-7, Henn 0-1); NDSU 8-22 (P. Miller 3-9, Dupree 1-3, Ward 2-4, Jacobson 1-1, Geu 0-1). Assists: Davis 11 (Graham 4); NDSU 13 (Kabellis 5). Turnovers: Davis 16 (Graham, Schneider 4); NDSU 12 (five with 2). A-2,921.

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Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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