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 Marquette (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) 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
"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.