Everything changes in overtime.
“We played the way we can play but our mistakes let them get back into it and cut our lead away and that’s eventually how they got a chance to get the win,” said junior forward Tevin Russell, who finished with a team-high 23 points. “The few mistakes we made, they took advantage of it.”
With the game tied 64-64 at the end of regulation, overtime was evenly matched with the score tied twice. The Blue Hawks were down 69-67 with 1 minute, 37 seconds left, as senior guard Robbie Morey found junior post Mackenson Odenier in the paint to tie it up 69-69.
Emotions were running high on and off the court. With just one second left after Northern’s Corbin Pearson missed the potential game-winning shot, the Lights (14-3, 2-1 Frontier) grabbed the rebound and senior guard Alfie Miller sank the game-winning shot as time expired. Miller finished with 11 points.
“First of all, hats off to Dickinson,” Northern head coach Shawn Huse said. “They played great, they play extremely hard, they fought extremely well, they got a good ball club and they’re going to make some noise in the league before this thing’s over. They already did two nights ago and they did tonight even if they didn’t get us … We’re very fortunate to walk out of here with the W and at the same I’m very proud of our guys and they really gutted it out.”
DSU (6-9, 1-2 Frontier) came out in the first half aggressive and played as if the team carried the momentum over from Thursday’s win against the University of Great Falls — a Frontier Conference opponent.
The Blue Hawks went 12 of 24 from the floor, made 5 of 10 3-pointers and hit 3 of 4 free throws. The team went into the half with a 32-24 lead. Odenier posted 19 points.
However, Northern wasn’t going to go down without a fight and roared back in the second half.
With 10:39 left in regulation and DSU up by eight, Northern scored seven unanswered points to cut DSU’s lead to 47-46. The Blue Hawks responded and tried to expand their lead.
With less than seven minutes left, Miller drained a long 3-pointer from the corner to put the Lights up 53-52 — its first lead since it was 2-0 in the first half.
“We’re getting a lot better but we still got a lot of things left to work on,” said sophomore guard DeSean Atkins, who finished with 10 points. “Like (Tevin) said, little things that let them come back in the game.”
The score tied in the final five minutes of the game with Odenier making the team’s final two shots to put them up 64-62 before Northern’s Will Perry made a layup with 19 seconds left, which sent the game into overtime.
Despite the loss, DSU head coach Ty Orton is more than pleased with how the team held up against its ranked opponent.
“We did a phenomenal job, I think we outplayed them in a lot of categories,” Orton said. “A couple things, we panicked at a couple times, I made a couple calls that I thought might keep them on their toes and it made them relax and we gave up that 3 in the corner and I overthought some things as a coach.
“But for the kids, man, I tell you what, they’re playing their best basketball. People want to come watch great basketball, these kids are playing phenomenal. We got great kids and they’re playing their hearts out.”
DSU is 2-3 since the break and Orton said he’s seen his team improve on various levels. One of the more prominent players to change his game is Atkins. Throughout the season Orton said the biggest aspects Atkins brings to the table are his athleticism and quickness. After a rocky start between the two, Atkins said he isn’t fighting his coach and just goes with the program.
“DeSean plays about three possessions before he hits a wall but those are three really really strong possessions,” Orton said. “He does some things, he’s really seeing the defensive side especially. He’s so quick he’s just such a great athlete and he just attacked the rim.”
The Blue Hawks begin their road trip-laden portion of the season this week, starting with Lewis-Clark State College at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We just need to play our game,” Orton said. “We need to understand the ball continuously moves, we got to continuously cut, and we need to understand we always have to play at a high level. We can’t take possessions off and they’re starting to understand that.”
MSU-NORTHERN (14-3, 2-1): Corbin Pearson 7-11 4-5 18, Jesse Vaughan 3-6 0-0 7, Roshawn West 1-3 0-0 2, Allan Brown 3-6 0-0 7, Alfie Miller 4-12 0-0 11, Nicholas Blount 1-2 0-0 3, Gabe Finley 5-12 2-2 13, Mike LaValley 0-1 0-0 0, Will Perry 5-5 0-0 10. Totals: 29-58 6-7 71.
DICKINSON STATE (6-9, 1-2): Ty Ackelson 1-7 2-4 5, Robbie Morey 1-1 0-3 3, Brock Boos 3-7 0-0 8, Tevin Russell 10-14 2-2 23, Mackenson Odenier 9-12 1-4 19, DeSean Atkins 2-7 5-6 10, Jacob Volk 0-3 1-2 1. Totals: 26-51 11-21 69.
Halftime: 32-24. Total fouls: MSUN 16, DSU 10. Technical fouls: MSUN Pearson. 3-point goals: MSUN 7-19 (Pearson 0-1, Vaughan 1-2, Brown 1-3, Miller 3-7, Blount 1-2, Finley 1-3, LaValley 0-1), DSU 6-16 (Ackelson 1-5, Morey 1-1, Boos 2-6, Russell 1-2, Atkins 1-2). Rebounds: MSUN 23(Pearson 8), DSU 29 (Ackelson 8). Assists: MSUN 11(Brown 4), DSU 12(Morey 5). Steals: MSUN 3(Brown, Finley, Perry), DSU 5 (Morey, Russell 2). Blocks: MSUN 1(Finley), DSU 3 (Odenier 2). Turnovers: MSUN 8 (Brown 3), DSU 8 (Odenier, Juston Goodwin 2).