North Dakota State 64, No. 8 Marquette 60
MILWAUKEE (AP)—North Dakota State made the most of another appearance in the spotlight.
Andre Smith scored 26 points to lead the Bison to a 64-60 victory over No. 8 Marquette in the championship of the Blue and Gold Classic on Saturday night.
“It was fun, I’ll tell you that much,” said North Dakota State coach Tim Miles, whose team also beat then-No. 15 Wisconsin on the road last season. “It was a great night.”
Smith, who had 18 points in the second half, shot 11-for-18 from the field and had six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“Andre was jacked up,” Miles said. “We all came here for one reason, and that was to win the tournament.”
Mike Nelson, the tournament’s most valuable player, added 19 points for the Bison (5-2), who shot 51.9 percent (14-27) in the second half.
“We showed pretty good poise down the stretch,” Nelson said.
Jerel McNeal had 16 points and seven steals for the Golden Eagles (8-1), who were upset 71-64 by Winthrop in last year’s championship game, snapping their 13-0 run in Blue and Gold Classic play under coach Tom Crean.
“All in all, we got beat by the better team tonight, no doubt,” said Crean, whose team never led after a 3-2 advantage. “They beat us fair and square in every facet of the game.”
The Bison (5-2), who moved to Division I in 2004-05, won their fourth straight game by making 6-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final 44 seconds.
Dan Fitzgerald made a 3-pointer to cut the North Dakota State lead to 60-57 with 32.6 seconds left, but Marquette couldn’t get any closer. Smith made two free throws to increase the lead to five with 30 seconds left.
Marquette missed consecutive 3-pointers before Brett Winkelman made two foul shots for a 64-57 lead with 9 seconds left. The Golden Eagles forced 25 turnovers but shot just 35.8 percent. They also committed 17 turnovers.
“We gave up too many open looks,” McNeal said. “In crunch time, we couldn’t get the stops when we needed to.”
Nelson made a 3-pointer with 13:54 left to put North Dakota State ahead 39-30. Wesley Matthews scored for Marquette with 10:05 left, cutting it to 43-40, but baskets by Lucas Moormann and Winkelman gave the Bison a 47-40 lead with 8:19 to play.