MADISON, S.D. -- Blake Wilder had a game-high 19 points and a team-leading eight rebounds to lead the Bellevue University men's basketball team back from a 12-point deficit to upend Dakota State University 80-72 on Saturday evening in North Star Athletic Association action at the DSU Memorial Field House.
Bellevue improves to 7-6 overall with the victory and 2-1 in NSAA play. Dakota State drops to 7-6 overall on the season and 2-1 in league play.
In addition to Wilder's career-high 19 the Bruins got double-figure scoring efforts from Richard Reed, Nick Hilton, and Jalen Hall. Reed scored 15 while Hilton and Hall added 12 apiece. Hall, who had been absent from the Bruin lineup the last two games, had five rebounds and four assists to go along with the 12 points he scored in his return.
Keeon Johnson (19) and Kevin Daniels (16) combined for 35 points to lead the Dakota State offense with Johnson dishing out a game-high eight assists. Bobby Farquah and Brendon Boomsma added 10 and nine, respectively, in the loss.
The Bruins converted each of their first three field goal attempts as they began the game on a quick 6-0 run through the first 1:18 of the game. After that quick start, Bellevue managed to make just two of their next 14 attempts before back-to-back layups from Hall gave Bellevue a 15-10 lead at the 10:44 mark.
Dakota State countered with a 15-4 run, taking their first lead of the game on Maurice Arrington's three-pointer. A trey by Brendon Boomsma gave the Trojans their largest to that point, 29-23, at the 4:35 mark prompting BU to take a timeout to try to slow the momentum.
Hall (9) and BJ Shelton (8) combined for 17 points in the first half to lead the Bruins at the break. However, it would be Dakota State that took a 40-28 halftime advantage into the locker room. DSU out-shot the Bruins 66.7 to 39.4 percent from the field including a 77.8 to 12.5 percent advantage from beyond the three-point line.
Bellevue had led 19-14 but Dakota State closed the half by out-scoring BU 26-9 over the final 7:47 to build a 12-point halftime lead. Kevin Daniels led all players with 11 points at the break and Arrington had a first half-high seven rebounds.
The Bruins, much like they did to open the game, started the second half by scoring the first seven points of the period to trim the DaSU advantage to five, 40-35.
A spin move along the baseline led to an old-fashioned three-point play by Wilder brought the Bruins to within a possession, 46-43, with 14:25 to go brought BU the closest they'd been since the 4:58 mark of the first half. Wilder absorbed contact and brought Bellevue within one with a layup on the next possession then hit a pair of free throws the next time down the court to give Bellevue their first lead of the second half.
After trailing by seven, 44-37, Bellevue engineered a 13-4 run to take a two-point lead, 50-48, to set up the back-and-forth stretch run. Dakota State reclaimed the lead, 59-57, but a 13-4 run by BU this time gave the Bruins a 70-63 edge for their largest lead of the game with just 4:53 to play.
The next points wouldn't come until the 1:31 mark on a three-pointer from Keeon Johnson. A BU turnover on the ensuing possession saw the Trojans regain the ball with a chance to make it a one score game but Johnson's jumper clanged off the iron and Hall collected the rebound.
At the other end Reed hit a pair of free throws to stretch the Bruin lead back to six points, 72-66 with 52 seconds to play. Daniels' three-pointer cut the deficit to four with 27.6 seconds to give Dakota State some life. However, Bellevue salted the game's final seconds away by hitting all six of their free throw attempts to close out the victory.
After Dakota State was nearly perfect from deep in the first half the Bellevue defense tightened up and the Trojans cooled considerably, hitting just three of their 13 tries from beyond the arc in the second period.
The Bruins owned the battle of the boards, out-rebound Dakota State by a 40-24 margin. That included a massive 17-1 edge on the offensive glass which led to a 14-1 BU advantage in second-chance points.
Bellevue forced Dakota State into 16 turnovers which they converted into 18 points at the other end while turning the ball over just 10 times for eight DaSU points. The Bruins out-scored Dakota State 38-20 in the paint to off-set the Trojans' 43.5 to 35.0 percent advantage from deep.
The Bruins are back in action tomorrow with a 5 p.m. NSAA tip-off in Forest City, Iowa against Waldorf University.