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Dickinson State rally comes too late against Valley City State

When sophomore forward Connor Entzi knocked down a free-throw line jumper, the Valley City State men's basketball team went up 77-66 over Dickinson State with just under three minutes to go in the game.

Dickinson State junior forward Donte Walker passes the ball out after driving into the paint against Valley City State on Friday, Jan. 18, from Scott Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson State junior forward Donte Walker passes the ball out after driving into the paint against Valley City State on Friday, Jan. 18, from Scott Gym. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
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When sophomore forward Connor Entzi knocked down a free-throw line jumper, the Valley City State men's basketball team went up 77-66 over Dickinson State with just under three minutes to go in the game.

Leading nearly wire-to-wire, the Vikings pushed their advantage to double figures just about every time the Blue Hawks appeared poised to make a run. In order to capture road win in front of a boisterous DSU crowd, Valley City State had to hold off one more charge.

Dickinson State twice closed the deficit to four in the final minutes, but could not make it a one-possession game, as the Vikings used free throws to close out a 84-77 victory on Friday, Jan. 18, from the Scott Gym.

"They just wanted it more than we did. They out-worked us, played harder than us. All the credit goes to them, they just flat-out beat us," Blue Hawks head coach Josh Vaughan said. "We just weren't ready and it showed. We were down at the half and they actually increased (their lead) to 15-16 in the second half. So again, all the credit goes to them."

Blue Hawks junior forward Melvin Collins trimmed Valley City State's lead, converting a three-point play to bring the home team to within eight, 77-69. After Collins connected on the front end of a 1-and-1, he missed the next attempt, but Dickinson State forced a jump ball on the rebound.

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On the ensuing inbounds play, junior guard Donte Walker found junior forward Kenny Jackson open in the right corner. Taking one dribble to get in rhythm, Jackson drilled a 3-pointer in front of his bench, cutting the gap to 77-73 with 1:46 remaining.

Against a rejuvenated Blue Hawks team and an electric crowd, Entzi again had the answer. With junior guard Malcohm Hill draped all over him, the 6-foot-4 forward bounced in a floater in the lane, pushing the Vikings lead back to six with one minute and nine seconds left in regulation.

After Jackson hit two at the line to make it a 79-75 game, Dickinson State forced a five-second inbounding violation and regained possession. The home team couldn't capitalize though, as Entzi drew an offensive foul on Collins with 44.8 ticks on the clock.

Valley City State left the door open when sophomore forward Logan Nelson rimmed out two from the charity stripe, but Walker could not make his opponent pay, missing a good look from long distance, which would've made it a one-point game.

Without two of their starters, the Vikings edged it out in the end.

"I think our guys responded to some tremendous adversity, not having our starting point guard and our starting center today," Valley City State head coach Ryan Montgomery said. "We made it a point to say, 'Hey, we're a good basketball team with good basketball players, next man up.' And I thought our guys responded tremendous today."

After sophomore guard Hunter McCalla connected on a corner-three as time expired, Valley City State enter halftime with a 39-30 lead. The visitors' cushion increased to 13 before the Blue Hawks applied full-court traps minutes into the second half. Dickinson State had moderate success with the increased pressure, occasionally producing a turnover, but if the Vikings were able to advance the ball into the half court, they tacked onto their lead with continuous drives to the basket, thwarting any potential chance for a momentum shift.

"They actually shot better in the second half. ... We just weren't able to guard the ball," Vaughan said. "We created some turnovers in the backcourt, but as soon as they got it across half-court, we'd guard for about 25 seconds in the shot clock and then they'd make a play and make a basket."

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Nelson led the Vikings with 23 points, and was one of seven players to make a shot from three-point range for the visitors. Jackson and Walker each had 24 points to pace the Blue Hawks, who went 7-for-26 from behind the arc, including 1 of 11 in the first half.

"It was a combination of things: not being ready to play, taking bad shots in the first half, not sitting down and guarding the whole game," Vaughan said. "It was just a lot of things we talked about the whole week. We came out and we don't execute as well as we should have. I could do a better job of putting us in spots to score and be productive, but we just got to be ready to compete from the opening tip."

Valley City State 84, Dickinson State 77

VCS (5-12, North Star 2-4): Logan Nelson 23, Michael Cornelious 19, Connor Entzi 14

DSU (7-10, North Star 2-3): Donte Walker 24, Kenny Jackson 24, Melvin Collins 11, Travon Hamilton 9, Michael Vandall 5, Austin Payne 4.

Halftime: VCS 39, DSU 30. Total fouls: VCS 12, DSU 21. Fouled out: 1 (DSU: Hamilton) 3-point goals: VCS 7-15 (Nelson 1-3), DSU 7-26 (Jackson 4-9). Rebounds: VCS 29 (Nelson 9), DSU 35 (Collins 6). Assists: VCS 14 (Cornelious 5), DSU 17 (Walker 5). Steals: VCS 3 (Cornelious 2), DSU 7 (Vandall 4). Blocks: VCS 1 (Cornelious), DSU 2 (Vandall, Payne). Turnovers: VCS 11, DSU 11.

Related Topics: DICKINSON STATE UNIVERSITY
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