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Dickinson State Blue Hawks men’s basketball hopes to beat University of Jamestown Jimmies for third time in NSAA tournament

It's almost cliche to say that it's tough to beat a team three times -- and the Dickinson State men's basketball team wants to prove it's cliche for a reason.

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Dickinson State senior guard Jacob Gondrezick, right, drives past University of Jamestown junior guard Jake Hagler in the Blue Hawks’ 85-71 win over the Jimmies on Jan. 16 at Scott Gymnasium. (Colton Pool/The Dickinson Press)

It’s almost cliche to say that it’s tough to beat a team three times - and the Dickinson State men’s basketball team wants to prove it’s cliche for a reason.

The Blue Hawks will travel to take on the University of Jamestown in the North Star Athletic Association Tournament quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Thursday at Jamestown Civic Center. No. 5-seeded DSU (13-15, 6-7 NSAA) has beaten the No. 4-seeded Jimmies (15-11, 7-6 NSAA) twice this year heading into their third matchup.

“They say it’s tough to be a team three times,” DSU senior guard Curtis Redd said. “So now we have to prepare to go in there for the tough third one. It’s about us, not about Jamestown. They’re not an easy team to beat, so going down there isn’t going to be easy at all.”

The first matchup between the in-state rivals was on Jan. 16 at Scott Gymnasium. The Blue Hawks won 85-71. DSU then beat the Jimmies 82-77 on Jan. 28 in Jamestown.

But a major missing factor for the Blue Hawks will be senior guard Julian Vasquez, who leads the Blue Hawks with 17.4 points per game - which ranked fourth in the NSAA this season. He’s out with what is possibly a fractured non-shooting hand.

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“He’s hard to replace on the offensive end. He’s a scorer,” DSU head coach Justin Wetzel said. “We’re going to have to do it by committee - next man up. Someone’s going to have to step up. It’s that simple.”

Vasquez led DSU in scoring in both of its games against the Jimmies with 26 points and 27 points, respectively. He hit the game-clinching free throws in the game in Jamestown.

However, Redd also scored 26 points in the first game. He said he believes his team, which went 2-0 to end the season without him, can make make up his absence.

“I’m just going to try and be more aggressive,” Redd said, “and just try to hopefully find my shots and drives and make plays for other people to try and step up in his place.”

The Blue Hawks will also be going up against senior guard Brequan Tucker, who is a returning all-American selection for the Jimmies. He scored a game-high 31 points in their first matchup and then added 13 in the second game.

However, DSU kept Jamestown to 37.5 percent shooting in the first game and 33.3 percent in the second. DSU shot 41 percent in the first game and 44 percent in the second.

That second game still came down to Blue Hawks senior guard Jacob Gondrezick hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining.

“Down there, it was a close game. It was a dogfight,” Wetzel said. “The difference was we hit our free throws that game, and I think we made one or two more plays. I don’t have a specific answer. I just know that either game could’ve gone either way. I know we have a fight on our hands.”

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Jamestown’s crowd has been energetic, Gondrezick said, so it should make for an interesting atmosphere.

“I think we’re just focused on being ready to go from the jump and trying to approach it all like professionals this week,” Gondrezick said.

While Redd, Gondrezick and Wetzel all said there was no secret to beating the Jimmies, they did agree that the Blue Hawks were simply up in their up-and-down season in those games.

“They’re a really solid team and they play really well at home,” Redd said. “They’re really disciplined at home.They have a good fan base over there that supports them and obviously their players all play better at home. That’s where they practice at and are most comfortable. Obviously that gives them the advantage, so hopefully we can prepare to go in there and get another win.”

Though Gondrezick said the idea of this being his last game is somewhat of an emotional experience, he hasn’t kept his mind on that.

Instead, he’s treating it like any other game - with the goal of winning.

“It’s only three games. We could catch a little heater and see what happens,” Gondrezick said of the NSAA Tournament. “Realistically, we only have 40 minutes guaranteed, so we just need to control everything we can control and give it our all.”

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