DSU drops 4th straight heartbreaker
The Dickinson State men's basketball team has had enough heartbreaking finishes the past four games to last an entire season.
Saturday's overtime loss to Valley City State in front of a rowdy crowd at Scott Gymnasium may have been the worst yet.
DSU didn't make a shot from anywhere but the free-throw line in overtime. The Vikings, meanwhile, made just one shot from the field -- Aaron Duske's go-ahead layup with 56 seconds left -- and iced their 71-68 Dakota Athletic Conference victory from the line.
It was the Blue Hawks' fourth consecutive loss, which have come by a total of 14 points, and second in a row against Valley City State.
"Hindsight is 20-20," DSU head coach Ty Orton said. "I don't know if I'd change a lot in this game. Everything they did, they did it to win. Everybody should be proud of these guys because of the way they're playing."
Valley City State went 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in overtime and finished the game 19 of 23 (83 percent).
They sealed the win on a pair of Sekani Milligen free throws with 34.5 seconds remaining. He went to the line after DSU junior Jarek Hansen was called for a flagrant foul after wrapping his arms around Milligen in an apparent attempt to either draw a foul or steal the ball.
DSU held for the last shot, hoping to force double overtime, but Tevin Hurd and Matt Lee both missed desperation 3-pointers as the Vikings' defense locked down the Blue Hawks (8-15, 0-1 DAC).
Casper Hesseldal, who scored a team-high 20 points for DSU, scored all of the Blue Hawks' points in overtime as he went 5 of 6 from the free-throw line.
Lee finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"We really put our hat on the defensive end," VCSU head coach Jeff Kaminsky said. "I thought we did a great job getting some stops down the stretch. That was the other big part of the game. (DSU was) down three (and) we pretty much kept them from getting a shot off. That was a pretty special possession, defensively."
VCSU had defeated DSU 71-67 last Sunday on its home court.
"We've had two instant classics in the past seven days here," Kaminsky said. "Fortunately, they've gone our way."
From the early stages, the game seemed almost destined to come down to the wire.
The Vikings (18-6, 1-0 DAC) led 18-9 midway through the first half before DSU chipped away. The Blue Hawks cut the deficit to 29-26 by halftime and regained the lead, 41-35, with an 11-1 run early in the second half.
From there, it was a fight to the finish.
Milligen hit a 3-pointer with 3:49 remaining in regulation to put Valley City State ahead 61-55 but Hurd kept the Blue Hawks alive, scoring eight unanswered points in 2 minutes to reclaim the lead, 63-61.
"We've got to be more clutch," said Hurd, who scored 19 points. "We've got to play smarter when the game's on the line. We've had four close games and we've lost all of them. It's hard to swallow."
With 19.7 seconds to play, Hurd fouled John Raquel. He hit both his free throws to tie it at 63.
Millgen and John Raquel led VCSU with 16 points each. Milligen was 7 of 8 from the line and Raquel was 6 of 6.
Duske and Sylvester Walker both scored 14 points for the Vikings, who shot 24 of 57 (42 percent) from the field.
DSU had a chance to win it in regulation, but Hansen's shot from the right baseline was long.
John Hanstad had 11 points for the Blue Hawks, who were 22 of 55 (40 percent) from the field and 20 of 28 (71 percent) from the free-throw line.
Orton said it's tough to describe how his team is losing so many close games late in the season.
The Blue Hawks have just five regular-season games remaining and it's spot in the NAIA Division II Independent postseason tournament is not assured.
"We are turning the corner," Orton said. "Everybody just sees us losing games. But we're a great team."
VALLEY CITY STATE (18-6, 1-0 DAC): Sylvester Walker 6-9 2-3 14, John Raquel 5-11 6-6 16, Aaron Duske 5-9 3-4 14, Joe Bateman 1-3 0-0 2, Sekani Milligen 3-16 7-8 16, Ty Pratt 0-1 0-0 0, Dillan Ostrom 2-2 0-0 4, Christopher Embden 0-1 0-0 0, Patrick Rogers 0-1 0-0 0, Grant Lindahl 0-0 0-0 0, Malcolm McDonald 2-4 1-2 5. Totals: 24-57 19-23 71.
DICKINSON STATE (8-15, 0-1 DAC): Pierce Brooks 0-3 0-0 0, Casper Hesseldal 6-10 7-10 20, Tevin Hurd 7-16 4-7 19, Matthew Lee 5-10 3-5 13, John Hanstad 2-7 6-6 11, Donavyn Persley 0-1 0-0 0, Jeff Hurd 0-1 0-0 0, Robbie Morey 0-2 0-0 0, Ryan Kittleson 0-0 0-0 0, Jarek Hansen 2-5 0-0 5. Totals: 22-55 20-28 68.
Halftime: Valley City State 29-26. Total fouls: VCSU 24, DSU 19. Technical fouls: DSU Coach. Fouled out: VCSU Raquel. 3-point goals: VCSU 4-18 (Milligen 3-11, Duske 1-3, Raquel 0-2, McDonald 0-1), DSU 4-17 (Hesseldal 1-2, T. Hurd 1-4, Hanstad 1-5, Hansen 1-2, Morey 0-2, J. Hurd 0-1, Lee 0-1). Rebounds: VCSU 31 (Milligen 7), DSU 39 (Lee 10). Assists: VCSU 7 (Bateman 2), DSU 10 (Hesseldal 3, Hanstad 3). Steals: VCSU 6 (Walker 2, Bateman 2), DSU 5 (Hesseldal 2). Turnovers: VCSU 16 (Milligen 6), DSU 16 (Lee 8).