BROOKINGS, S.D. – A season after beating North Dakota by 38 points on the same floor, it took a desperation 3-pointer from Chad White for South Dakota State to defeat the visitors this time around at Frost Arena. White’s buzzer-beater capped a thrilling college basketball game between former North Central Conference rivals as SDSU claimed a 71-70 victory over UND.
“That felt more like a late February contest between two old conference rivals,” UND head coach Brian Jones said. “It was a slug fest and, unfortunately, they got the last shot to fall. We could not have defended that play any better, but that is how it goes some times.”
Junior Josh Schuler (Urbana, Ohio) led a quartet of UND players in double figures with 13 points and put UND back in the lead with under two minutes to play with back-to-back baskets. Senior Doug Archer (Conception Junction, Mo.) equaled his career-high with 12 points off the bench and classmate Mitch Wilmer (Warroad, Minn.) added a career-high 11 points.
Junior Jamal Webb (Buffalo, N.Y.) rounded out the quartet with 11 points, but on a night where UND made 13-of-16 free throw attempts, his miss on the front-end of a one-and-one with 12 seconds left allowed for White’s heroic shot to matter.
“Our effort was unbelievable after that first four-minute game,” Jones added. “I told our guys if we can play like that, especially on the road in the Big Sky, then there are good things ahead for us. We’re going to be battled-tested and this team is getting better.”
SDSU senior Nate Wolters, the reigning Summit League Player of the Year, and junior Jordan Dykstra led the Jacks with 21 points a piece, while White finished with nine – all coming on 3-point baskets.
The Jacks dominated the opening four minutes of play in the contest to build a 12-2 contest, but UND regrouped and controlled the remainder of the half to take a 38-32 at the break.
UND answered the opening run by the Jacks with a 10-2 run to pull within two, then took its first lead of the game on a layup by Anderson to make it a 19-17 contest at the 8:30 mark.
The visitors would not trail again in the first half and Doug Archer sparked another 10-2 run that pushed their advantage to eight with just over four minutes to play. SDSU kept it close at the foul line making 12 of 15 attempts in the opening 20 minutes.
UND overcame the sluggish start to shoot 14-of-25 from the field in the opening half, including a 5-for-9 clip from the 3-point line. SDSU made its first two attempts from beyond the arc, but missed seven straight.
The fifth was a buzzer-beater by Webb, who overcame a pair of airballs in the early going and make his final three shots of the half. Webb, Anderson and Mitch Wilmer all had seven first-half points to pace the comeback.
Just like the first half, the Jacks made their first two 3-pointers and would take the lead back at 45-44 on the strength of a 13-6 run to open the half.
The game would be a back-and-forth affair with neither team leading by more than four points the rest of the way. SDSU built a 65-61 lead after Dykstra connected on a trey, but Archer answered with his second of the game. It was the first time Archer had connected twice from deep in a game during his career.
Schuler would tie the score at 66-66 with a running leaner and give his team a 68-66 cushion with another runner from the baseline.
Archer made two free throws to put UND back up by four, but Tony Fiegan would make a putback off his own miss to cut the deficit to just two with a tick over a minute to play.
The teams trade empty possessions before Webb was fouled with 12 seconds to play. After Webb’s miss from the stripe, the Jacks would race down the court and get White’s desperation 3-pointer to steal the victory.
“This one is going to hurt, but we have to move forward and be hungry for a home win next Wednesday against UMKC,” Jones said.
UND would shoot 51 percent from the field for the game and connect on 7-of-14 from beyond the arc. The teams were even in the rebounding department with 31 a piece. Junior Aaron Anderson led that effort with six.
The Jacks stayed in the game thanks to 30 trips to the free throw line. Wolters, who went 10-for-13 in the game from the stripe, and his teammates connected on 23 of those.
UND will return home after concluding its three-game road swing on Wednesday against Kansas City. Tip off with the Kangaroos from the Betty Engelstad is slated for 7:05 p.m.