Bison to go dancin’: NDSU wins Summit title for NCAA tournament bid
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — North Dakota State is going dancing for the second time in school history. Taylor Braun’s three-point play with 1:12 left in the game was the difference giving the Bison a 60-57 win over Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne and the Summit League title.
It gave them the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
It had every bit of the drama of the 2009 Summit title game that the Bison won on a last seconds shot. It wasn’t an offensive masterpiece with each possession having mounting pressure as the game wound down to the final minutes.
Braun’s 3-pointer with 2:45 left gave NDSU a rare lead at 54-53. Later, his drive with 1:18 left gave the Bison a 56-55 advantage.
Steve Forbes missed on the other end for IPFW. With the shot clock winding down, Braun’s scoop shot while getting hacked by Forbes went in. He converted the three-point play to give NDSU a 59-55 advantages — its largest of the game.
The Mastodons got a rebound bucket from Joe Reed with three seconds left. Kory Brown made one of two free throws with 2.2 seconds and a desperation shot at the buzzer missed for IPFW.
Unlike the semifinals against the University of Denver on Sunday, the Bison ran into an opponent who came out of the blocks hot. The Mastodons hit five of their first six shots to set the tone for the first half, which ended with IPFW up 35-30.
NDSU was just 12 of 30 including 3 of 11 from 3-point range. Starting guards Braun and Lawrence Alexander were a combined 1 of 10.
The difference: IPFW was 5 of 10 from 3-point range with forward Michael Kibiloski leading the way at 3 of 4. The Dons were certainly capable of it — they were ninth in the country in field goal shooting coming while the Bison led the country in that category.
It was a difficult night for NDSU to get any kind of a run going. It did not score more than four in a row all game.
Still, TrayVonn Wright’s layup with 11:40 left gave NDSU its first lead since four minutes into the game. There wasn’t much separation between the teams after that.
Wright was about the only consistent offensive threat for the Bison, finishing with 19 points.