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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 10 2013

Bison hold off Fort Wayne rally to move into first place tie in Summit League

FARGO – Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne dialed long distance to get back into its men’s basketball game with North Dakota State on Thursday night. The Bison took a different route.

They hit some key shots commonly called slam dunks and in the process slammed the door on a Mastodons rally. The dunks gave the Bison a 67-55 victory before 2,690 fans at the Bison Sports Arena and moved them into a first-place tie in the Summit League.

If anything, the last three minutes were worth the price of admission.

“That’s what you live for. That’s college basketball,” said NDSU forward Taylor Braun. “You want games like that, and that’s what makes it fun. That high intensity stuff is what we live for.”

The Mastodons used the

3-point route to get back in the game after trailing by 16 points five minutes into the second half. Luis Jacobo’s 3-pointer got Fort Wayne within 57-54 with 4:02 left.

That’s when NDSU’s TrayVonn Wright put home a one-handed alley-oop dunk, which topped his earlier slam when he came flying in from the baseline and jammed one while being fouled.

“It gets the crowd energized and it gets us energized, ready to go on defense,” Wright said.

After the Bison had a defensive stop, Taylor Braun got loose in the middle with another slam, a basic two-handed job that had some explosion to it.

Braun was also called for a technical foul.

“They said I did a chin-up on the rim,” Braun said. “It is what it is.”

Jacobo made one of two free throws with 2:58 left to pull Fort Wayne within 61-55, but the Bison shut out the Mastodons from there.

“It got a little dicey there at times,” said NDSU head coach Saul Phillips. “It was a good competitive game. They did everything they needed to do to put themselves in position to win, and we did everything we needed to do to win.”

NDSU improved to 14-3 overall and 5-0 in the league. Fort Wayne, which came in winners of two straight, fell to 8-10, 1-3.

In the end, a decisive middle-of-the-game spurt by NDSU was the difference.

Trailing 28-27, NDSU closed the first half on a 10-4 run for a 37-32 intermission advantage. That was just the start.

Holding the Mastodons to just a Mario Hines inside bucket, the Bison scored the other 13 points in the first six minutes of the second half. That made it 50-34, and what looked to be a tight game turned into what looked to be a comfortable NDSU advantage.

It didn’t last.

Three straight 3-pointers got Fort Wayne right back in it. Moreover, a halfcourt press the team just put in specifically for the Bison caused some problems.

“That’s not something we traditionally do,” Fort Wayne head coach Tony Jasick said of the press. “It got our guys going a bit.”

But not enough. Where in past years NDSU’s youth may have showed, a veteran mentality was the key against Fort Wayne. The Mastodons had beaten the Bison in five of the previous six meetings.

“We did a good job of taking a deep breath, taking a step back and relaxing and making the open pass and working through it,” Braun said.

By working through it, it sets up another clash with Oakland University, which comes to the BSA at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“How many close, great games have NDSU and Oakland had?” Phillips said. “You just kind of expect it.”

IPFW (8-10, 1-3 Summit): Jacobo 6-15 4-5 21, Hines 3-7 0-2 6, Kibiloski 2-5 0-0 6, Gaines 5-15 1-2 12, McCray 0-5 0-0 0, Bland 0-0 0-0 0, Graham 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 1-1 0-0 2, Edwards 3-5 0-0 8. Totals: 20-53 5-9 55.

NDSU (14-3, 5-0 Summit): Wright 3-5 3-3 10, Bjorklund 7-8 0-2 14, Alexander 4-11 2-3 10, Brown 3-4 0-0 6, Braun 7-12 2-2 16, Felt 3-6 0-0 7, VandenBergh 0-0 0-0 0, Kading 1-2 0-0 2, Zastrow 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 28-49 7-10 67.

Halftime: NDSU 37, IPFW 32. Total fouls: IPFW 12, NDSU 9. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: IPFW 25 (Hines 7); NDSU 32 (Alexander 10). 3-point goals: IPFW 10-26 (Jacobo 5-12, Kibiloski 2-5, Edwards 2-2, Gaines 1-4, McCray 0-3), NDSU 4-15 (Alexander 2-6, Felt 1-4, Wright 1-2, Braun 0-2, Zastrow 0-1). Assists: IPFW (13 (three tied with 3), NDSU 12 (Alexander, Brown 5). Steals: IPFW 6 (McCray 3), NDSU 3 (three tied with 1). A-2,690.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia