The North Dakota State University men’s basketball team was left for dead with 41 seconds to go in the game and down 64-61, but still found some way to pull out the 80-75 overtime win over the University of Oklahoma in the Round of 64 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
For a majority of the first half, the Bison and the Sooners traded baskets in a see-saw opening 20 minutes.
Senior TrayVonn Wright started out on fire for the Bison by knocking down a three and coming up with a big dunk. NDSU had a 10-2 run in the first four minutes, but OU’s three point shooting put them back into the lead before the first media time out at 11-10.
However, coming out of the timeout, NDSU went on a 6-0 run to grab a 16-11 lead. NDSU was able to find openings down low for Marshall Bjorklund and Kory Brown for easy buckets. Jordan Aaberg also had a nice bucket during the run. The Sooners would answer with back-to-back threes from Isaiah Cousins, giving them 17-16 lead.
It would be back and forth as Taylor Braun had an And-1 here, Buddy Hield with a three there. No team showed a clear advantage on either end of the court for a majority of the first half. The last four minutes, however, would be different.
NDSU was down 29-26 with 3:34 to go in the half when they went on an 11-0 run, engineered by Lawrence Alexander, Bjorklund and Braun. The Bison would use the run to give themselves a 37-29 lead going into the locker room.
Alexander opened up the second half with NDSU’s first five points, but OU would answer with 11 points of their own and jump right back into the game. OU’s Ryan Spangler would have a dunk, followed by a steal from Cousins and a Hield lay-up.
From that point on, it was a back and forth contest, neither team showing a distinct advantage. OU caught a break when NDSU’s defensive stopper Brown was called for his four foul with nine minutes to go in the game.
NDSU would not give in, as they held a 52-50 lead when Brown went out and pushed it to 56-50 with 6:37 to go after Wright knocked down a couple free throws.
Up 61-57 with 2:23 to go, OU’s Cameron Clack would knock down a corner three to cut the Bison lead to one. An errant cross court pass from Braun was picked off by a Sooner and Brown would foul out trying to go for the steal.
A couple of free throws and a jump shot later, OU would take a 64-61 lead. Then, with 41.8 seconds to go, a harmless ball knocked out of bounds by, what seemed like OU, ended up going off of Bjorklund and out bounds. The Sooners would get the ball after a review of the replay.
It seemed like the game was over for NDSU, but you never say over until the clock hits zero. OU missed two free throws in four attempts and gave NDSU a chance with seconds left to go. On a broken play, Alexander picked up a loose ball beyond the three point line and drilled a three pointer to tie the game at 66.
OU would have attempts at the end of regulation but could not convert, sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, both teams would trade ties as the game continued to see-saw. With 1:18 to go and NDSU up 72-70, Braun would foul out. NDSU would bring in freshman Carlin Dupree, proving to be the biggest substitution of the game.
OU made both free throws, tying the game up. NDSU would have to feed the ball to Dupree, who would get fouled bringing the ball up the court. He would make both free throws, giving the Bison a 74-72 lead.
After an OU miss, Dupree again found himself with the ball down on the block and double teamed to boot. In desperation, he threw the ball toward the hoop and in typical March magic, it found the bottom of the net.
OU would turn it over on the next possession and NDSU would cement it away with free throws.
Alexander would end with a career high 28 points, along with seven rebounds and four assists. OU’s leading scorer Cameron led his team with 25 points.
The Bison await the winner of the 4-seed San Diego State University and 13-seed New Mexico State University.