The North Dakota State Bison are going to their first NCAA tournament since 2009 after defeating Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in the Summit League Tournament Championship on Tuesday night, 60-57.
Taylor Braun, NDSU's senior guard and leading scorer, was held in check for most of the night, but the Summit League Player of the Year came up with big shots when the Bison needed them most. Through the first 37 minutes of the game, Braun made just two of his 11 field goal attempts. His 12th try came when North Dakota State was trailing 53-51 with 2:47 left in the game. Braun pulled up from behind the arc and made a three-point shot that gave NDSU the lead.
Steve Forbes made a pair of free throws to regain the lead for the Mastodons, but Taylor Braun ensured that IPFW's lead was short-lived. On the Bison's next offensive possession, Braun drove hard to the basket and converted a layup to put NDSU ahead for good. The next time he got the ball, Braun made his shot, drew a foul, and went to the free throw line, where he completed the three-point play. That sequence put North Dakota State up 59-55 with 12 seconds left in the game, effectively sealing the win.
North Dakota State didn't create many second chances for itself -- the Bison pulled in just five offensive rebounds on 32 missed shots -- but they didn't waste any possessions either, turning the ball over just four times all night.
TrayVonn Wright's 19 points led the Bison in scoring. He also chipped in four rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocks. IPFW didn't have a single player enter the double-digits in scoring, but seven Mastodons scored between seven and nine points.