Junior Lawrence Alexander scored 20 points, including 18 in the second half, but the North Dakota State men's basketball team came up short at the University of Denver on Saturday, falling 67-63 in front of 4,021 fans at Magness Arena.
NDSU (16-6, 5-2 Summit League) never held a lead in the game, but the Bison trimmed a 13-point deficit to one at 64-63 when Alexander hit a pair of free throws with 30 seconds remaining in the game.
After Denver's Chris Udofia connected for one free throw to make the score 65-63, NDSU was unable to capitalize on a pair of chances to tie the game. Alexander saw a layup rim out with 18 seconds left, and, after the rebound went out of bounds and stayed in NDSU's possession, senior Mike Felt missed a long two-point jumper with seven seconds remaining.
Marcus Byrd made two free throws to seal the victory for the Pioneers.
Denver (11-11, 4-3 Summit) was led by 19 points from guard Brett Olson. Udofia chipped in 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
NDSU made 15-of-25 attempts (60 percent) from the free throw line after entering the game ranked ninth in the nation in free throw percentage.
Senior Taylor Braun finished with 17 points for NDSU after scoring 16 in the first half. TrayVonn Wright led the Bison with six rebounds as NDSU posted a 26-21 advantage on the glass.
NDSU will return to Fargo for a Summit League homestand, hosting IUPUI and Fort Wayne on Feb. 6 and Feb. 8.