The top-seeded North Dakota State men's basketball team erased a seven-point second-half deficit to pull off a 60-57 victory over Fort Wayne in the championship game of the Summit League Tournament and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday, March 11, at Sioux Falls Arena.
Trailing 55-54 with 1:30 remaining in the game, NDSU senior guard Taylor Braun scored with a driving layup to put NDSU up 56-55. After a Fort Wayne shot rimmed out at the other end, Braun hit an off-balance baseline jumper and was fouled with 12 seconds remaining, giving NDSU a 59-55 lead after converting the three-point play.
NDSU (25-6) will make its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2009 after winning its second Summit League Tournament title.
Senior forward TrayVonn Wright scored 19 points to lead all players, carrying the Bison through one of their coldest shooting games of the season. Braun scored 15 points – 12 in the second half – and grabbed six rebounds.
NDSU, the national leader in team field goal percentage, shot 40.7 percent for the contest. It was the third lowest shooting percentage of the year for the Bison.
Fort Wayne (24-10) had Luis Jacobo, Michael Kibiloski and Pierre Bland each score nine points. The Mastodons held a 35-30 lead at halftime after shooting 50 percent in the opening half, but NDSU limited Fort Wayne to 8-of-25 shooting (32 percent) over the final 20 minutes.
It was NDSU's second win this season after trailing at halftime, improving their mark to 2-6 when behind at the break. The Bison committed just four turnovers in the game.
The game saw five ties and seven lead changes in the final 12 minutes.
Braun was named the Summit League Tournament MVP, and he was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Wright and fellow senior Marshall Bjorklund, who scored 12 points in the final before fouling out.
NDSU will find out its NCAA Tournament seed, opponent and location of the game during the selection show on KXJB at 5 p.m. (CT) Sunday.