Sunday , Dec , 03 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

North Dakota State downs No. 8 Marquette

Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) – Andre Smith netted a game-high 26 points, as
North Dakota State upset eighth-ranked Marquette, 64-60, in the championship
game of the Pepsi Blue and Gold Classic at Bradley Center.

Smith also pulled down six rebounds, and collected three assists and three
steals for North Dakota State (5-2), which has won three in a row. The Bison
were playing in their only tournament of the regular season, having advanced
to the final with a come-from-behind 57-50 win over Princeton.

Mike Nelson also contributed 19 points.

Jerel McNeal had 16 points and seven steals to lead the Golden Eagles (8-1),
who suffered their first loss of the season after reeling off eight
consecutive victories. They advanced to play the Bison with an 83-67 victory
over Northwestern State but fell in the title game for the second straight

Marquette held its only lead of the evening, 3-2, less than two minutes
after the opening tip off. Brett Winkelman followed with a layup for the
who ran to a 28-24 halftime advantage.

“When the crowd started getting into it, we hit a few big shots and gave us
some momentum,” said Nelson. “That’s what you have to do when you play teams
like this.”

The Golden Eagles pulled within two to open the second half, but North Dakota
State responded. The Bison held a nine-point lead, 39-30, with just under 14
minutes remaining, although Marquette made it interesting down the stretch.

Dan Fitzgerald hit a three-point shot to cut the lead to three, 60-57 with
32.6 left on the clock, but Smith followed by hitting a couple of free throws
for the Bison. Marquette then missed a couple from beyond the arc, but
Winkelman made two foul shots for a 64-57 lead.

Dominic James capped the scoring for the Golden Eagles by hitting a three-
pointer with just three ticks remaining.

“We got beat by the better team tonight,” said Marquette head coach Tom Crean.
“We only led at one point. They beat us fair and square in every facet. We’ve
dogged bullets, but don’t want to give anything back. We danced a little too
close to the line of defeat and tonight we couldn’t get over it. They were
tougher and had more energy. We are a team that should be experienced enough
to be able to come back and do what we need to do. We have a long season ahead
of us and will go right back at it.”

Game Notes

The Golden Eagles lead the all time series 3-1. The two schools hadn’t met
since the 1965-66 season…Marquette’s run of six straight titles ended last
season when they were upset 71-64 by Winthrop in the championship game.