VALLEY CITY, N.D. - Tied at 65-65, the nationally-ranked Valley City State (N.D.) outscored Dakota State men's basketball team 6-1 in the final 1:02 for a 71-66 Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) conference victory at the W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon. It was both teams' regular-season finale.
Dakota State finished their regular-season with an overall record of 19-9 and 5-3 A.I.I. conference record. Valley City State, No. 20 in the latest NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Coaches' national poll, raised their record to 21-7 and 8-4 A.I.I.
With the game tied at 27-27 with less than three minutes left in the first-half, the Vikings closed the first-half with an 11-6 run to earn a five-point lead (38-33).
VCSU was 15-for-32 from the field (46.9 percent) in the first twenty minutes of the game. The Vikings shot 6-for-14 from the 3-point range (42.9 percent). DSU was 13-for-30 from the field (43.3 percent) in the first-half and 1-for-8 from the 3-point arc (12.5 percent).
Valley City State opened the second-half with a 10-4 scoring round to earn an eleven-point lead at 47-36 with 15:45 remaining.
The Trojans answered back with a 22-11 scoring run in a span of 10-plus minutes to tie the game at 58-58 (5:14 left).
Yusuf Vinson made two free-throws to give DSU a 67-66 lead with 34 seconds left.
VCSU regained back their lead at 68-67 with 23 seconds remaining as Sekani Milligen nailed down two free-throws.
DSU could not convert their scoring opportunity as Luke Lamb missed a 3-point field goal with seven seconds left in the game. VCSU secured the game by adding three more free-throws.
Both teams scored 33 points in the final twenty minutes of the game. The Vikings shot 50 percent from the field (10-for-20) in the second-half compared to the Trojans' 27.6 percent (8-for-29).
The game featured a total of eight ties and six lead changes.
Tyrone Gordon, Jr. scored a game-high 27 points for the Trojans. He was 10-for-22 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line. Lamb added 15 points. Keith Lee II scored nine points.
Vinson pulled down 14 rebounds for Dakota State. Lamb added five rebounds.
Gordon, Jr. dished out seven assists for DSU. Vinson and Gordon, Jr. each had two steals.
Four players scored in double digits for the Vikings. Gus Kueber scored 17 points. Milligen added 13 points. Patrick Rogers had 12 points. Aaron Duske had 11 points.
Kueber earned seven boards for VCSU. John Raquel had four assists.
Valley City State shot 48.1 percent overall from the field (25-for-52) compared to the Trojans' 35.6 percent (21-for-59). The Vikings drained 10 3-pointers in 22 attempts (45.5 percent), while DSU was 5-for-17 from the 3-point arc (29.4 percent).
The Trojans converted 19 free-throws in 24 attempts (79.2 percent). VCSU was 11-for-16 from the free-throw line (68.8 percent).
DSU outrebounded the Vikings 41-32.
Both teams will play in the A.I.I. Division II Men's Basketball Conference Postseason Tournament next weekend in Jamestown, N.D. The tournament kicks off on Friday, Feb. 22 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 24. The pairings and opponents will be announced on Sunday.
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director