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'DONS COME UP SHORT: IPFW loses in chance for auto bid to Big Dance

March 12, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Taylor Braun made a bold statement after North Dakota State's 2013 Summit League championship loss to South Dakota State.

"We're going to win it next year," he said.

Braun followed through on that promise Tuesday night by making a key layup while being fouled with 12 seconds left and adding the free throw to lead the Bison to a 60-57 win over Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne for the Summit League title and a second trip to the NCAA tournament.

"Honestly, I thought I was going to the free throw line — threw it up and it somehow went in," Braun said.

TrayVonn Wright led North Dakota State (25-6) with 19 points on a mixture of dunks, layups and jumpers, and Braun added 15 points.

Marshall Bjorklund, the nation's most accurate shooter from the field at 63.7 percent, contributed with 12 points, but fouled out with about 2 minutes left in the game.

Coach Saul Phillips said Wright kept the Bison in the game for most of the 40 minutes and Braun stepped up to finish it.

IPFW (24-10) stuck with its balanced approach, with Pierre Bland, Luis Jacobo and Michael Kibiloski each scoring nine points for the Mastodons, who were playing in their first Summit League title game.

Mastodon coach Tony Jasick said the game was a tough defensive matchup, and it's hard to get clean looks against the Bison.

"I thought we had a lot of balls on the rim that just didn't fall for us tonight," he said.

North Dakota State entered the game atop the Division I field goal shooting at 51.3 percent but shot just 40.7 percent from the field in the game, including 5 of 16 from beyond the arc.

Wright said the team needed more patience in using ball fakes and they rushed too many shots.

"We were impatient," Wright said. "We wanted to win right now. We didn't want to wait."

Phillips agreed.

"My message was, 'You've still got time here guys,'" he said.

The Bison, which trailed for most of the first half, began to make a move with about five minutes in the period when Wright dunked an alley-oop from Kory Brown for two and then hustled down court for a block on Steve Forbes, a turnover that led to another two.

But IPFW fought back to hold a 35-30 lead at halftime.

The Bison took the lead a handful of times in the second half, but neither team could pad its lead.

The crowd of 4,263 at the Sioux Falls Arena was primarily pulling for North Dakota State, which sits about 240 miles due north of Sioux Falls in Fargo, N.D.

The Bison earned a berth to the NCAA tournament in 2009 during its first year of Division I postseason eligibility, but lost in the opening round to Kansas 84-74. Phillips said he's excited to take this team to the NCAA tournament.

"It's going to be a blast," he said. "It's going to be an absolute thrill ride for our guys, and I'm going to make sure it is."

Jasick said IPFW has had a great run this season and he hopes to get a postseason invitation.

"I hope for our seniors that they get to play again," he said.

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