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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 21 2011

A cold reception: Phillips calls loss 'as disappointing' as he's been through at NDSU

North Dakota State’s fall in the Summit League men’s basketball standings mirrored Thursday night’s game against Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne. It was a slow and steady decline.

The Bison saw an 18-point first half lead fall apart in front of 2,409 fans at the Bison Sports Arena. The Mastodons owned the final three minutes to take an 84-80 victory, a defeat that was tough to take for the head coach.

“As disappointing a loss that I’ve been through since I’ve been here,” said Saul Phillips.

NDSU fell to 3-5 in the league and 9-9 overall. Going 3 of 8 from the free-throw line in the last 5 minutes, 30 seconds didn’t help.

“This was a tough one, especially after we came out with so much energy,” said Bison guard Taylor Braun.

The Mastodons took a 2-0 lead, then never saw their name on the top end of the scoreboard until Trey McCorkle’s basket with 2:11 left in the game, which gave IPFW a 74-72 advantage. After Michael Tveidt missed from in close, Zach Plackemeier’s 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining made it 77-72.

Braun’s field goal and Tveidt’s steal and dunk got the Bison within a point. Down

79-76, Nate Zastrow’s 3-point attempt at a tie was off with 30 seconds left, which was NDSU’s last gasp.

For a while, it was surprising it was even close.

It looked like just an ordinary 29-25 lead when the Bison exploded for 14 straight points late in the first half. Center Marshall Bjorklund had two inside hoops and Zastrow contributed a pair of free throws and a 3-point field goal, the latter of which made it 43-25.

NDSU went on that run with forwards Tveidt and Eric Carlson – the team’s top two leading scorers – on the bench. It wasn’t a problem considering the Bison had six players with between four and eight points in the first 20 minutes.

The Mastodons got it down to 45-31 at halftime, but they clearly had some work to do to hold down NDSU’s 58 percent first-half shooting.

“We talked at halftime, it was going to take a whole half to get back,” said IPFW guard Ben Botts. “We didn’t want a 10-point shot.”

It took them six minutes to get the lead under double digits. It took another two minutes to get it to eight at 54-46 with just over 12 minutes remaining. It was at 7 a minute and a half later.

But Tveidt finally got on track with a pair of 3-pointers, his first buckets of the game, and the Bison held serve for a few minutes. Trailing 64-53, a pair of 3-pointers and Botts’ 10-footer made it 65-61.

“Give them a bunch of credit, they stayed hungry and chipped away,” Braun said. “They made the plays down the stretch and we didn’t make enough of them.”

Botts pulled his team within three with 5:17 left on another trey. Jeremy Mixon’s rebound bucket at 3:40 tied it at 70-70.

“I thought we were more patient and solid on offense in the second half,” Botts said. “We’ll take it.”

Botts led all scorers with 21 points. NDSU went the more balanced route with Tveidt’s 14 points, Braun’s 13, Zastrow’s 12, Bjorklund’s 11 and Mike Felt and Freddy Coleman with 10 each. But the Mastodons were 5 of 6 from

3-point range in the second half.

Phillips pointed to that, his team’s free-throw shooting down the stretch and not being able to maintain possession of the ball.

“We were not able to finish plays,” he said.

IPFW (12-6, 6-2 Summit): Peckinpaugh 0-0 0-0 0, McCorkle 6-8 4-4 16, Gaines 2-4 0-0 4, Plackemeier 4-6 4-4 15, Botts 5-12 9-11 21, Smeathers 0-1 0-0 0, Kibiloski 2-2 2-2 7, Mixon 4-8 3-3 12, Kovalov 1-2 0-0 3, Boyd 1-3 2-2 5. Totals: 25-46 25-28 84.

NDSU (9-9, 3-5 Summit): Tveidt 3-8 6-9 14, Bjorklund 5-6 1-2 11, Coleman 3-5 3-6 10, Lundberg 1-2 1-2 3, Braun 5-8 3-4 13, Felt 3-6 2-2 10, Zastrow 3-6 4-4 12, Carlson 2-4 1-2 5, Wright 0-2 2-2 2, Nagel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-48 23-33 80.

Halftime: NDSU 45, IPFW 31. Total fouls: IPFW 27, NDSU 22. Fouled out: McCorkle. Rebounds: IPFW 25 (Plackemeier 6); NDSU 22 (Braun 6). 3-point goals: IPFW 9-13 (Plackemeier 3-3, Botts 2-2, Smeathers 0-1, Mixon 1-2, Kovalov 1-2, Boyd 1-1); NDSU 7-19 (Tveidt 2-5, Coleman 1-2, Lundberg 0-1, Braun 0-1, Felt 2-3, Zastrow 2-5, Wright 0-1). Assists: IPFW 6 (Mixon 2); NDSU 9 (Braun 3). Turnovers: IPFW 16 (Boyd 5); NDSU 10 (Lundberg 3). A-2,409.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia