Editor's note: In this series, the Grand Forks Herald's veteran sports staff ranks their top five memorable moments. Herald sports editor Wayne Nelson continues his list with this No. 3 memorable moment.
When it came to playing South Dakota State in men’s basketball during a stretch from 1997-2000, UND was jinxed. The Jacks simply had UND’s number.
The 2000 UND senior class had lost eight straight to SDSU -- and No. 9 was looking highly likely on March 9, 2000.
At the tiny Auraria Event Center in Denver, SDSU and UND met in a first-round North Central Region Division II game. The Jacks, once again, were in control -- leading by 14 points in the second half. But the game slowly turned in UND’s favor.
Seniors Chad Mustard, Marcus Travis, Brady Larson, Hunter Reinke and Blaine Ristvedt must have been tired of the Jacks’ abuse over the years. During some of those SDSU wins, the contests were a little testy as well.
UND eventually won, 73-67 -- perhaps one of the more satisfying wins during the careers of the five UND seniors.
Mustard, one of UND’s all-time basketball greats who went on to play in the NFL, finished 23 points and 10 rebounds..
“Man, I remember that game like it was yesterday,” said Mustard. “What I remember the most was how bad I personally played in the first half. I was probably 1-for-8 or 1-for-9 from the field. At halftime, (assistant) coach (Ben) Jacobson lit me up. And if I remember, a water cooler may have lost its life that day. But it worked. We came out in the second half and stormed back.”
There were a lot of twists and turns in the second half, a game that was hard to write on deadline since Mountain Time Zone tip offs never were friendly to Herald sports writers. They still aren’t.
In the final 10 minutes or so, I must have written four or five leads to the story that appeared in the Herald the next day. The final lead was written after Curtis Munlin’s basket off a drive with 1:14 to go gave UND a 69-64 advantage. And UND won despite having three of its top players -- Kyle Behrens, Larson and Reinke -- on the bench as they had fouled out.
The scramble I had to endure during the final few minutes amused the late radio broadcaster Scott Swygman, who, with a chuckle, informed his listeners of the number of leads I had to rewrite.
And, if I remember correctly, there may have been an extra letter or number typed into my story as Swyg was known to have some fun on press row from time to time when I wasn’t looking down at my keyboard. Swyg had a way of making most UND road trips fun and memorable.
The win was satisfying but UND couldn’t enjoy it for long.
The next night, UND played top seed Metro State. The Roadrunners, led by future NBA coach Mike Dunlap, won big, 82-58, en route to the NCAA Division II national title in 2000.
But the win over SDSU still resonates with me 20 years later because it was so improbable considering the previous four years. I’ll rank that game No. 3 on my all-time Herald list.
And another memory from that game came when Travis took a hard shot to the face. He laid on the floor roughly a minute after taking the shot. At the time, SDSU led 37-23.
After the game Travis said, “OK, it’s time to fight back. If we’re going down, we’re going down fighting.”
Herald Top 5 Lists
3. After four years of frustration, UND’s 2000 win over SDSU was satisfying