MINNEAPOLIS -- North Dakota State's amazing run to its first NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament came to an end Friday afternoon to a program that has experienced this 37 other times.
Defending national champion Kansas, relying on a nearly-flawless offense, hung on for an 84-74 win over a never-say-die Bison team which -- before 15,794 Metrodome fans -- was flirting with becoming only the 16th No. 14 seed to knock off a No. 3 seed since this tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
"I knew this was not going to be your typical 3 vs. 14 game," said Bill Self, head coach of a Kansas program that was making its 20th straight NCAA tournament appearance and 38th overall. "I thought North Dakota State was terrific just the way we expected them to be. And I thought we played excellent, especially on the offensive end."
While the Jayhawk defense had no answers in stopping Ben Woodside, NDSU's all-time leading scorer who led all scorers with 37 points, the Kansas offense was impressive.
Point guard Sherron Collins showed why he's a second-team All-American with his 32 points. Meanwhile, sophomore center Cole Aldrich scored 16 of his 23 points on eight dunks -- igniting an inside game that produced 42 points, explaining why the Jayhawks shot 50 percent.
Even more impressive: the No. 13-ranked Jayhawks committed only five turnovers.
"We not only lost to a very good basketball team, we lost to a very good basketball team that played very well," said Saul Phillips, whose team's magical season ended with a 26-7 record. "I thought we came at them pretty good but it wasn't enough because they played pretty good."
Woodside, who ended his Bison career with 2,315 points, came at Kansas from every angle -- driving to the hoop, banking in floaters, draining three 3-pointers and making 8 of 10 free throws. Four different Kansas players -- Collins, Brady Morningstar, Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrone Appleton -- could not stop him.
"I didn't know he would be that good," Collins said of Woodside.
"He is the best guard we played all season," Self said.
Demonstrating his burst of speed that has NBA scouts taking notice, Woodside split a double-team and created a three-point play that cut the Kansas lead to 56-53 with 11 minutes, 48 seconds remaining. As a frustrated Self called a timeout, an estimated 10,000 Bison fans rose to their feet sensing an upset.
But the Bison failed on four straight possessions to either cut the lead to one point or tie the game. Sophomore Michael Tveidt, whose six points earlier in the half helped trim an 11-point Jayhawk lead to three points, saw two of his shots rim out. Brett Winkelman was also whistled for a charging foul.
"We tried to take advantage, unfortunately, we just couldn't quite get over that hump," said Winkelman, whose 12 rebounds vaulted him pass Joe Regnier as NDSU's all-time leading rebounder.
The Bison cut the lead to three points three more times -- the last when Woodside's two free throws made it 62-59 with 7:57 remaining. That's when Kansas went on a 7-0 run sparked by Collins' 3-pointer. During that run, a Bison turnover led to a Brady Morningstar layup. It ended when Bison senior center Lucas Moormann had to leave the game with 5:47 remaining with his fifth foul -- which led to two Aldrich free throws that gave the Jayhawks a 69-59 lead.
"No question, that hurt us," Phillips said of Moormann's departure.
But the Bison did not quit. Woodside went on a seven-point tear draining a deep 3-pointer over Morningstar to cut the lead to 73-67 with 2:25 remaining.
But 32 seconds later, Aldrich followed a Collins missed layup with his eighth and final slam dunk. He was fouled and made a free throw to give the Jayhawks a 76-67 lead with 1:53 remaining.
The Bison could get no closer than six points, as Collins made all six of his free throws in the final 59 seconds to seal the win sending the 26-7 Jayhawks into Sunday's second-round game against West Virginia or Dayton.
NDSU, which had won 18 of its last 19 games, saw its seven-game winning streak end. Its previous four losses were by a combined 11 points including four- and one-point losses to NCAA tournament teams Southern Cal and Stephen F. Austin.
The four fifth-year seniors -- Woodside, Winkelman, Mike Nelson and Moormann -- suffered their first loss in three tries against a Top 25 team. As freshmen, they won at No. 15 Wisconsin 62-55. As sophomores, they won at No. 8 Marquette 64-60.
"Wisconsin and Marquette missed a lot of shots ... Kansas did not," Phillips said. "When a mid-major plays a high major, there's usually going to be 6 to 10 plays -- plays that I call 'life is not fair plays' -- that will determine how you do."
Some of those plays were Collins' tough jump shots and Aldrich's eight slam dunks.
"We just needed for them to make a couple more mistakes," Woodside said. "They played a great game today."
And, according to Self, so did the Bison.
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