Jeff Kolpack, Published March 10 2014
Bison ready for title-game tilt with IPFWSIOUX FALLS, S.D. – One year later, North Dakota State gets a do-over. The Bison will play for the Summit League men’s basketball title for the second straight year, this time against Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, which defeated two-time defending champion South Dakota State 64-60 in the second semifinal game Monday night.
The 8 p.m. championship game will be nationally televised on ESPN2. NDSU returned all five starters from last year’s team, which was beaten down the stretch in a 73-67 loss to SDSU. It was a feeling that never really left the players.
“We try to use it in a positive way,” said Bison guard Taylor Braun. “It helps us play harder and fight that much more because we came so close last year and dealt with those feelings. We’re going to do everything in our power to not have to do that again.”
The Bison will play a Mastodons team that they split with during the year, losing in the conference opener 82-71 in Fort Wayne and winning 69-58 at home in early February. It was an emotional win for Fort Wayne before a Sioux Falls Arena session record attendance of 6,769, almost all of them SDSU fans.
Putting that behind won’t be a problem, said guard Pierre Bland, who said he told his teammates right after the game “to stay composed and get ready for tomorrow.”
“We have a mature group,” said IPFW head coach Tony Jasick. “I think we’ll prepare the right way and hopefully we’ll prepare the right way.”
It’s the first title appearance for Fort Wayne in its Division I era. The Mastodons made the Division I transition around the same time NDSU did.
The Bison will be shooting for their second title, having last won in 2009.
“It’s going to be different, it’s different every year,” said Bison center Marshall Bjorklund.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
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