FARGO, N.D. – The home team won again as has been the trend since the North Dakota-North Dakota State men’s basketball rivalry resumed three seasons ago with both teams now at the Division I level. This time around, the Bison dealt UND a 72-52 setback thanks to a game-high 22 points by senior Taylor Braun.
Junior Aaron Anderson and Mitch Wilmer each scored 12 points to pace UND, but the visitors turned the ball over 19 times and gave up 18 offensive rebounds to the Bison, who improved to 8-2.
NDSU took advantage of the absence of junior Brandon Brekke, who played only three minutes after suffering a concussion early on. He scored a game-high 17 points in UND’s win over the Bison in Grand Forks a year ago.
The loss was the fifth straight overall and third in a row to a Summit League foe for UND (1-6) , who now returns home for one final tune up before opening its inaugural Big Sky slate on Dec. 17 at Southern Utah.
“I thought our guys battled and we were right there at halftime again, but turnovers cost us in this one,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “We could not find a rhythm offensively and they did a nice job of establishing their post players early in the game.”
The first half was a back-and-forth affair early on before the Bison surged ahead by 10 points on the strength of a 14-2 run with just over six minutes to play. Chris Kading capped the run with a dunk down low, but UND responded with a nice 10-2 run of its own to pull within two at 26-24 late in the stanza.
NDSU would get the final four points of the half, however, to push its advantage to six at the break.
Turnovers really plagued the visitors in the second half as the Green and White had six in their first 11 possessions, allowing NDSU to once again build a double-digit lead. This time, the Bison would not allow their advantage to dip back down to single digits the rest of the way.
Braun was aided by the inside presence of Marshall Bjorklund and TrayVonn Wright, who scored 13 and 10 points, respectively. Those two helped NDSU hold 34-29 advantage on the glass as Wright pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
The Bison turned UND’s 19 turnovers into 12 points and also made 15 points off their 18 offensive rebounds. UND managed only four second-chance points on eight offensive rebounds and forced just six NDSU turnovers.
Wilmer’s 12 points were a new career-high as he went 4-for-5 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line. After missing 16 free throws in Wednesday’s loss to Kansas City, UND righted its wrongs in that department, sinking 16 of 19 against the Bison.
UND will return to action on Thursday at home against Presentation College. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m.