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Jeff Kolpack, Published March 10 2013

Braun sparks NDSU with strong second half in win over Missouri-Kansas City

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A strong second half sent one of the Summit League’s longest-standing members permanently out of sight in men’s basketball in the first round of the Summit tournament. North Dakota State rebounded from a halftime deficit against the heavy underdog Kangaroos to take a 69-58 victory at the Sioux Falls Arena.

NDSU advanced to face Western Illinois in one semifinal Monday night. The Bison will be looking for a better to start than the one they turned in against Kansas City. It was the Kangaroos who looked to be the more inspired team.

The Bison won the two regular season meetings by an average of 28 points, but the Kangaroos came out with other ideas. Playing inspired defense, they took a 22-19 halftime lead frustrating the Bison on several offensive possessions.

NDSU, which averaged 11 turnovers during the season, had 11 by halftime.

Leading scorer Taylor Braun had four of those mistakes to go with 0 of 2 from the field. Moreover, its seven made field goals was the fewest in a first half since a loss to Kansas City last year.

The error-filled first half prompted Bison head coach Saul Phillips to tell a television sideline reporter he was about to have some pointed words for his team at intermission.

Whatever happened, it worked. A 17-3 run sparked by Braun, center Marshall Bjorklund and guard Lawrence Alexander gave NDSU its first breathing room of the night. It was 38-29 at the midway point of the second half.

The spread expanded to 14 points in the final three minutes. Braun led the way with 27 points, 24 in the second half.