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Hardrockers edge Ackleson, Blue Hawks

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Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson State junior Mackenson Odenier, right, goes up for a layup against a host of South Dakota School of Mines defenders on Friday at Scott Gymnasium.2 / 2

The game between Dickinson State and South Dakota School of Mines came down to free throws. The Dickinson State men’s basketball team lost a close game to South Dakota School of Mines Friday night, 67-65 in the Scott Gymnasium.

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With less than a second left, and the Blue Hawks down by one point, DSU senior Ty Ackleson fouled Mines’ senior forward Michael Dietz who increased the lead to two. The Blue Hawks rebounded, but before they could move the clock ran out and the Hardrockers opened its season with a win.

DSU’s performance in the first and second halves was night and day. The team played flat in the first half and let Mines’ take complete advantage of the situation.

“I think we got better. I think we attacked better we did some things really well,” DSU head coach Ty Orton said. “But we fought back, we were down 15 with no emotion, no energy at halftime … I wasn’t going to give up and they didn’t give up and they showed it.”

In the beginning of the second half, DSU was down 47-30 and climbed out of its hole to come within one point in the final minutes. Ackleson drained a 3-pointer to bring the Blue Hawks within one point, 65-64. Ackleson finished the night with 14 points, five rebounds and went 4 of 5 from 3-pointer range.

Mines’ Lucas Nolan was fouled and made one free throw, but a quick jump ball was called on the Hardrockers to give the ball back to DSU. With 1.7 seconds left, DSU senior Isiah Thomas was fouled by junior center Andrew Rebol and made one of his free throws. Both Rebol and senior guard Lance Kilburn led the Hardrockers with 17 points each.

“We started off real sloppy and needed a wakeup call, being down 15 at the half kind of woke us up,” DSU junior forward Tevin Russell said. “We kind of got into each other’s’ heads, woke each other up and came out with more intensity, more attention to detail and more heart and that’s what got us back in it.”

In the first half, neither team could rebound under its respective net. DSU had five offensive rebounds and 14 defensive rebounds, while Mines was eight and 14. For the most part, it was back and forth between both teams. There were six lead changes and the score was tied four times.

At the 7:23 mark, the score was tied 22-22 for the last time and the Hardrockers broke away. Mines went on a 23-8 run to close out the half as Dietz hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

None of DSU’s players were able to score double-digit points in the first half while Rebol led the team with 13 points and Dietz scored 10. DSU’s DeSean Atkins led his team at the half with just seven points.

“One of their goals is to stay paranoid, everyone is coming after them and you need make sure that you never relax, and they relaxed in the first half. They didn’t play hard and they expected to win the game and that’s not what this schedule is made to do.”

One thing Orton has been impressed with is the talent from his bench players. Orton said that any of his players have the talent to be starters, but what players, like Ackleson, bring to the court helps uplift the team in times of need instead of early on.

“Ty brings that fire on us, Ty can easily be a starter, but Ty also brings a bump coming into the game and lifts us even higher,” Orton said. “Even with Isiah (Thomas), we have guys that can easily come in and start for us, but they come in and lift us even higher because they’re strong personality and character wise.”

Six of the next seven games for the Blue Hawks are away, starting Sunday as the team travels to Montana State for an exhibition game. Though long road trips can be tough mentally and physically, Ackleson said this gives the team a chance to work on its chemistry and get to know each other.

“We love playing at home, but when we go on the road, they’re long bus trips and we get to get to know each other a lot better and with those road trips, that’s when we learn how to play with each other,” Ackleson said. “With an opponent’s crowd, we got to realize we got to come closer together in order to win.”

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.