VCSU men 69, Jamestown 64
JC 23 41 — 64
VCSU 32 37 — 69
JC: Davon Thomas 19 points, 10 rebounds; Mark Hoge 17 points.
VCSU: Sekani Milligen 17 points, 5 rebs; Aaron Duske 13 points
Despite holding the lead nearly the entire game in Tuesday's 69-64 win over Jamestown College Wednesday, the No. 22 Valley City State University mens basketball team struggled with one thing: Rebounding.
Whether it was a bad bounce off the backboard, an extra boxout by a Jimmie defender, or just a strong jump from Beny Collins on the offensive end, Jamestown found plenty of opportunities for second-chance baskets.
But in the grand scheme of things, it was a rebound the Jimmies missed that seemingly made the difference.
With 11 seconds left and a 67-61 lead for VCSU (17-5 overall), Jamestown's Breshion Tucker missed a 3-pointer that would have made it a one-posession game. It instead bounced off the backboard, into Aaron Duske's hands. When Duske went to the line, he hit both free throws, effectively icing the game with eight seconds left.
"It was good to see him do that," said VCSU coach Jeff Kaminsky. "He struggled from the line earlier in the year and to be in a situation where he had two free throws to secure the game was good to see."
Duske's free throws ended Jamestown's chances at a last-second comeback, forcing the Jimmies to settle for one more 3-pointer from Mark Hoge before the final buzzer sounded, evening the series between the teams at 1-1 with a game to play next week in Jamestown.
It Wednesday's contest, the latest in a close series of games between the rival teams, the lead only changed three times, all in the first five and a half minutes.
But once VCSU got a 3-pointer from AJ McDonald that put the Vikings up 8-7 with 14:36 left in the first half, the Jimmies never got the lead again as VCSU got the lead as high as 15 points late in the half, though it also got as small as four points with two and a half minutes left to play.
"The big thing there is that we just didn't rebound," Kaminsky said. "Give them credit for that. They had 17 offensive rebounds and that's just not acceptable. It's a game, in most other areas, we really controlled."
On paper, the rebounding totals finished 41-27 in Jamestown's favor. Offensively, Jamestown had 17 boards, as Kaminsky noted, which gave the Jimmies at least nine second-chance points and numerous fouls that led to free throws.
The Jimmies got the early lead in the game with a 3-pointer from Davon Thomas 20 seconds in.
Valley City tied it two minutes later, getting a mid-range jumper from Sekani Milligen and a free throw from John Raquel to make it 3-3. Raquel gave VCSU its first lead when he hit a fast-break layup to make it 5-3.
Jamestown scored four points to take a 7-5 lead five minutes in, but 25 seconds later, AJ McDonald connected on a 3-pointer to make it 8-7, a lead Valley City held the rest of the game. But McDonald's 3 was simply the beginning of something bigger.
Where some games would become a battle in the paint, the Vikings and Jimmies seemingly made it a 3-point contest in the first half.
VCSU finished the half with six 3-pointers, which accounted for half the field goals made by the Vikings in the first half. Jamestown wasn't much different, hitting four 3s in the half, despite making only nine total shots from the floor.
Rather than find balance working the ball both inside and out, Valley City found balance from behind the arc, with five different players combining for the 10 3-pointers VCSU finished the game with it.
At times it would be McDonald. Other times Duske, Patrick Rogers or Milligen, who led VCSU with three 3s. Even versatile big man Gus Kueber got in on it, hitting two 3-pointers, including one in the second half as the shot clock expired, while he had a hand in his face.
The 3-point shooting, combined with shots from Christopher Embden and Raquel, allowed VCSU to expand their lead as high as 32-17 with 1:42 left in the first half.
Though the Vikings allowed a few brief runs to start the second half, they largely kept the Jimmies at bay.
It wasn't until the final six minutes that Jamestown made a push behind Hoge, Breshion Tucker, and Collins to make it 61-55 VCSU with 4:36 left.
The lead got narrowed even further when Hoge hit two free throws with over three minutes left, then hit a mid-ranger with 2:33 to make it 65-61 with 2:33 left.
With just under two minutes, the Jimmies looked to narrow the lead after rebounding a missed shot by Kueber. As Jamestown worked it in their offensive half, the Vikings limited their looks and forced Tucker to settle for a layup, which he missed. Though the Jimmies got the rebound, it was ruled a shot clock violation, giving VCSU the ball back.
VCSU then got a layup at the other end from Raquel to make it 67-61. When Jamestown attempted to narrow the lead again, Hoge missed a 3-pointer, which bounced off the top of the backboard, again giving VCSU the ball. It eventually set VCSU up for Duske's rebound and icing layups.
VCSU finished the game shooting 52.2 percent from the floor, including 10-24 from the 3-point line. Milligen led VCSU with 17 points, including 3-6 from behind the arc, and had a team high five rebounds. Duske and Raquel also scored in double digits, scoring 13 and 12 respectively, and Ostrom and McDonald had eight points each.
Thomas led Jamestown with a double double, scoring 19 points with 10 rebounds. He was one of two double digit rebounders, with Jared Sutherland also grabbing 10. Hoge finished with 19 points.