VALLEY CITY, N.D. (  – The Valley City State men’s basketball team turned up the defensive intensity late in the game Saturday night as they rallied to a conference victory over Waldorf University.
Trailing 67-61 with five minutes to go, the Vikings used their defense to spark a game-changing 9-0 run en route to a 75-71 victory. The Vikings created Waldorf turnovers on three straight possessions, spurring the late comeback. VCSU held Waldorf to just seven points over the final 6:30, all of which came at the free throw line.
“We talked at halftime about how we’re going to have to win on the defensive end and create offense that way,” said VCSU head coach Ryan Montgomery. “Our guys did that at the pivotal moment of the game, and I’m really proud of that.”
The win is the third straight for the Vikings, who improved to 8-17 overall and 4-9 in the North Star Athletic Association. Waldorf drops to 6-19 overall and 2-10 in the North Star.
Junior guard Michael Cornelious scored after each three of Waldorf’s late turnovers, tying the game at 67-67 with 3:08 to go. Jake Skelly capped the run with a 3-point play inside, putting the Vikings ahead 70-67 with 2:06 to go. After Waldorf cut the lead to one with two free throws from Brian Smith, VCSU freshman Hunter Sand came up huge with an offensive rebound and putback, giving VCSU a 72-69 lead with 1:28 to go. The Vikings made three free throws in the final minute to ice the victory.
Viking guard Jake Skelly scored a team-high 19 points, shooting 7-for-10 from the field and knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. Connor Entzi posted 15 points, and Logan Nelson finished with 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Michael Cornelious added seven rebounds and 12 points – six of which came during VCSU’s late run. Denzel Kennedy and Hunter Sand each added seven points.
Valley City State shot 48 percent from the field (31-65), 23 percent on 3’s (5-22) and 8-for-9 at the free throw line. Waldorf finished the game shooting 46 percent overall (25-55), 22 percent on 3’s (4-18) and 85 percent at the line (17-20).
Four Warriors scored in double figures, led by 15 points from Demitrius Martin. Brian Smith added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench, and Quincy Minor Jr. posted 11 points.
Valley City State held a 32-26 rebounding advantage, including a 7-2 edge in offensive rebounds. VCSU finished with eight assists and 13 turnovers, while Waldorf totaled seven assists and 12 turnovers.
The Vikings held a 36-32 lead at the half, getting a buzzer-beater 3-pointer from Logan Nelsonheading into the locker room. The game featured six ties and eight lead changes.
Up next: Valley City State hosts nationally-ranked Dakota Wesleyan University for a non-conference game on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The women’s game tips at 6 p.m., and the men’s game follows at 8 p.m. Waldorf University plays at Mayville State University on Sunday in a conference doubleheader.