North Dakota State, Fort Wayne Head to Championship Game

Photo by Inertia Sports Media
Photo by Inertia Sports Media

Men's Basketball Championship Page

The Basics
Score: No. 1 North Dakota State 83, No. 4 Denver 48
Records: North Dakota State (24-6), Denver (16-15)
Location: Sioux Falls Arena - Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Summit League regular season champion North Dakota State punched its ticket to the championship game of The Summit League men's tournament with an 83-48 victory over Denver Monday night.

The Bison hit 15 of their first 20 field goal attempts (75 percent) and rolled to a 42-15 halftime lead. Senior Taylor Braun hit all six of his first half field goal attempts, including four treys, for 18 points by intermission.

Braun finished with a game high 28 points and was one of just two Bison players in double figures. TrayVonn Wright had 12 points and a game high nine rebounds.

For Denver, which is 16-15, Cam Griffin scored 13, Chris Udofia 12 and Bryant Rucker 11.

The Bison, who were runners up in last year's tournament, are now 24-6 for the season.

Turning Point

TrayVonn Wright's put back dunk off North Dakota State's first field goal attempt sparked an early Bison run that resulted in a 27-point halftime lead.

Inside The Box Score

  • North Dakota State shot 73.9 percent in the first half while Denver shot 30.0 percent.

News & Notes

  • Tonight's North Dakota State victory marks the 20th time in the past 21 years that the No. 1 seed has reached The Summit League Championship Game.
  • The 35-point victory set a Summit League Tournament record for semifinal games. The previous record was 32, set by Missouri State in its 1989 win over Valparaiso. It marked the first 30-point victory for any tournament game since Valparaiso defeated IUPUI by 33 in the 2002 Championship Game.
  • North Dakota State shot 66.7 percent from three-point range, tying for the fourth-highest total in a Summit League Tournament game. It was the highest figure since 2007.
  • North Dakota State's 73.9 percent first half shooting percentage was the highest for any half since Green Bay shot 77.3 percent in the second half of a 1994 semifinal against Cleveland State. It is the best first half percentage since 1991 when Northern Iowa recorded a 76.2 clip in a semifinal vs. Northern Illinois.
  • Denver's 15 first half points were the lowest for any half in a Summit League Tournament game since Kansas City had 15 in a 2003 semifinal against Valparaiso.
  • Tonight's semifinal marked the first time since 1999 that all top four seeds reached the semifinal round. It was only the seventh time in history (30 tournaments) that the top four seeds met in the semis.

Up Next
North Dakota State advances to the championship game and will face the winner of the second semifinal game between No. 2 Fort Wayne and No. 3 South Dakota State. The championship game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. CT tip-off on Tuesday and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.


North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips

"I think TrayVonn made the opening statement tonight. [He] Beat me to the punch. That was a pretty emphatic start and we didn't let off the gas much all night. Feels a little better than last time we were at this podium, huh gentlemen? We just got to make sure it stays that way."

on how he keeps the guys focused
"Yoga, long walks in the park, soothing music… We used the same game plan that we used before we played SDSU on a by-week. We had one day off so we did a little extra shooting. Then we did extremely hard, but short practices- quick reps. We actually threw one inter-squad scrimmage in there. half court, 20 minutes up there and went. It was funny-yesterday we got down to Sioux Falls and our guys played a couple quick games of three, played two and the guys were like 'I want to play one more, I just want to feel sharp.' They knew their bodies, they know them better than I do. That's when you got older guys- they do what they need to do to get ready. I know this- I was on edge all week long with the by-how our guys would handle it. I guess that's what worrying does for you, not a whole lot, I should have known better."

on how he keeps the guys fresh with the bye
"It's a weird sensation, seeing guys pack up and leave the hotel and you haven't even played a game yet. Kind of spooky. It's always good for you to get more rest, it did wonders for us and helped us prep defensively."

on whether he has seen a more efficient performance in his career
"I had a group against IUPUI where we were good offensively. We had a game against USD at USD last year where we were probably as efficient offensively. It was pretty impressing having a group that does that under pretty bright lights."

on whether he has ever had a group more focused
"Yea, the '09 team was as focused. I thought our team last year was focused. I think experience is the best teacher. Last year, getting to the finals with Taylor just coming back from being hurt, that's a pretty impressive team in and of itself. This is a focused group. I think you saw a focused SDSU group last year with a bunch of seniors and a bunch of juniors that might be playing again. Taylor Braun scores 28 points, he took nine shots. The kid oozed swagger out there, didn't he? He was the alpha dog from the second he stepped on that court. I'll take that kind of leadership any day. He's the same guy that said last year 'we're coming back next year and we're going to win it. He backs up that talk with that performance. I'll take that kid any day of the week."

on what he is going to say in the locker room before tomorrow's game
"I know exactly what I'm going to say to this team: play the next game. I've said it before and I'll say it again. This season has been like a story book. It feels like the only way it ends right is to win tomorrow. That's the way it feels to us. That's not brash, that's not bragging- that's how it feels to us. Now go back it up with your play."

North Dakota State guard Taylor Braun

on the team's fast start and sometimes nerves kicking in
"We've had all week to prepare for this. We have been playing very well lately and we are a confident group. We did our bees to channel our channel our nerves, energy and excitement to shut them down and I think we did a very good job of doing that. That just allows us to be more free offensively. Shots go in at a higher rate."

on his offensive performance tonight
"I was hitting everything I threw out there. From the beginning, just seeing the first couple go in, it definitely made me a lot more comfortable. We have so many ways that we can attack teams, so we just try to ride the high hand. I was feeling it the first half. It definitely helps having the big man like Marsh [Marshal]."

on how much he is thinking about last season's tournament going into tomorrow
"We try to use it in a positive way. It just helps us play harder and fight that much more because we came so close last year, and having those feelings after the game- we are going to do everything in our power to go undefeated with another game."

on what was said at half time
"Don't let up. Don't get complacent, we wanted to come out the exact same way and keep fighting."

North Dakota State forward TrayVonn Wright

on what adjustments he made offensively
"[I] Just chased them off of the line. We didn't' want them to be comfortable on the 3pt line. We had to make them feel claustrophobic on offense."

North Dakota State forward Marshall Bjorklund

on how much of an emphasis was it for him to get the ball inside tonight
"That was part of our game plan- it is any game with this group. We've got multiple guys that can do some damage down there so I don't think it was any more of an emphasis than any other game, but it was definitely a big point that we talked about before the game."

on what he can take from last year's championship going into tomorrow
"It's going to be different. Just the fact that we have guys that play and that every guy has a good deal of minutes, so just having that in our back pocket is kind of nice. Kind of helps our confidence."

Denver head coach Joe Scott
"I think we just ran into a buzz saw tonight. The first half they played really well. We couldn't make a shot and they made every shot. [Senior Taylor] Braun with one on the shot clock and he threw in a 29-footer. That sort of was the cherry on top.

They're the veteran team. They've been here before. Braun, [Summit League] Player of the Year, he played like that today.

For the last two times we played them, the ball goes in the basket for them no matter what they shoot.

on what NDSU did with its three-point defense that was so effective this time
"I think really what it comes down to is too many adjustments.  They lay off of two of our guys and they zero in on our perimeter guys. We've worked all year long on what adjustments are we going to make when they don't defend two of our guys.  The adjustments we tried to make coming into the tournament worked last night. [But] this [Bison team] is an older basketball team.  You've got to give them credit.

on DU's defense, especially with NDSU's inside size advantage
"When you're in that situation, you can't take away everything from a team. The threes they got and the drives they got were what hurt us. Those ones hurt us and helped them a little more than the interior stuff."

On how will having a year in The Summit League help them for next year
"Experience is key. We've gone through it now. I'll be honest with you. It came out a little bit this year, with three leagues in three years, it's not easy. 

We've been to every school now. We know how every school is going to play. We're just missing a little bit of the girth, the size.  We're good the perimeter. We've got everybody coming back except Udofia, and that's a big except, over 1,500 points in his career, over 600 rebounds. But when it comes down to replacing him, you know what we're going to look for."

on the NDSU's experience
"It's big comfort level for them playing together so many games and they've won so many games. They don't have to make many adjustments. They're just a really good basketball team. And as the year has gone along, they've become a better defensive team."

on senior post Marshall Bjorklund
"I don't know if there is a better big man as far as quickness and nimble feet."

The Basics
Score: No. 2 Fort Wayne 64, No. 3 South Dakota State 60
Records: Fort Wayne (24-9), South Dakota State (19-12)
Location: Sioux Falls Arena - Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Second-seeded Fort Wayne advanced to the championship game of The Summit League men's basketball tournament with a 64-60 semifinal victory over defending champion South Dakota State Monday night.

Fort Wayne freshman Mo Evans hit his first four shots from the field – all three pointers – as the Mastodons opened a 25-15 lead en route to a 30-24 halftime margin.

SDSU opened the second half with a 9-0 run to lead 33-30, and from that point the teams battled back and forth until a basket by Joe Edwards put IPFW ahead for good at 44-43 with 12 minutes to play.

Evans finished with 18 points on six three-pointers to lead Fort Wayne while Pierre Bland added 12 and Steve Forbes contributed 10 with eight rebounds.

Brayden Carlson led SDSU with 19 points and Chad White scored 10. South Dakota State ends the tournament with a 19-12 record. 

Turning Point

Trailing by one with 12:20 left, Fort Wayne went on an 8-0 run to take a 50-43 lead and never trailed again.

Inside The Box Score

  • Fort Wayne had 14 steals, forcing a total of 18 South Dakota State turnovers in the game.

News & Notes

  • Mo Evans set a Summit League Tournament record with a 85.7 three-point field goal percentage by converting six of seven attempts. His six made threes tie for the sixth highest total in Summit League Tournament history and are the most since 2011.
  • Fort Wayne's 24 victories are a new school record and the Mastodons will play in The Summit League Championship Game for the first time.
  • The two teams have now split their four all-time meetings in The Summit League Tournament.
  • South Dakota State's seven game Summit League Tournament win streak was snapped, ending the third-longest streak in history.
  • The Fort Wayne victory ensures that the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will meet in The Summit League Championship Game for third time in the Sioux Falls era.
  • Tonight's attendance of 6,769 is a record for any men's tournament session in the Sioux Falls era.
  • South Dakota State did not make a three-point field goal in the first half, a first this season.

Up Next
Fort Wayne advances to the championship game and will face top-seeded North Dakota State. The championship game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. CT tip-off on Tuesday and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.


Fort Wayne head coach Tony Jasick
"I thought this obviously was a big win for our program. I thought our guys competed with great toughness. You've got to give credit to SDSU. I thought they fought hard the entire game, but we made some plays when we needed to.

on whether the team's 14 steals affected what you did on offense
It really got us out and we got them on their heels on transition defense. Tonight we did get our hands on a lot of loose balls."

on whether this is the biggest win since he's been at Fort Wayne
"It is a big win. It gives us an opportunity to play for the ultimate. We give us a chance to compete for what we want to compete for."

on what the team did differently against South Dakota State this game
"When we went to South Dakota State, we were hugging our man, creating huge gaps. Tonight we made adjustments to take away those gaps."

on Mo Evans shooting performance
"Mo tonight took a lot of the shots he normally takes. He did get a couple more tonight. But he's a guy we have a lot of confidence in and you can see he has confidence in himself."

on what they did to control Jordan Dykstra
"The key to defense is that you keep in front of your guy and not create help-and-recover situations. That's where he is dangerous because he plays off of others and they're really good at finding him."

on playing NDSU
"We were able to keep them off the glass [at home] much better than we did at Fargo. We've got to do a really good job on the glass. They're longer, they're bigger at pretty much every spot. We've got to be strong on the glass.

For us, we've got to make sure we're not taking the ball out of the net all night. We've got to be able to get out in transition and get some easy baskets. Hopefully, we'll put the pressure on them by doing that."

Fort Wayne guard Mo Evans

on how he has been able to make the adjustment to college basketball so seamlessly
"My high school coach had the same intensity as Coach Jasick. We went through the same drills."

Fort Wayne guard Pierre Bland

on how difficult was it to play in this environment
"It was difficult being able to hear, to communicate with my teammates.  But we had 'together' up on the board in the locker room and that was our focus. We stayed together as a team.

on the team's performance despite only getting six points from leading scorer Luis Jacobo
"That's the thing about this team. You can't just key on just one person. We had a lot of people step up tonight. That's what made this team so special."

on whether it will hard to get focused tomorrow after such a big win tonight
"After the game we were excited, but I said we still have unfinished business.  We just have to stay composed and get ready to win another game."

on withstanding the SDSU run late in the second half
"Our chemistry is great. We just stayed calm. That was my job to get them calmed down and run our sets."

on what was the team's emphasis vs. SDSU
"Play our game inside outside, crash the boards, play aggressive and play smart. Don't let the environment get to you."

South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy

on South Dakota State's defense
"It was very very poor transition defense in the first half. One time was off a free throw. We have experienced players out there. Kids aren't perfect, they made some mistakes and we let them know about that. They're not making those mistakes because they don't care."

on Brayden Carlson
"His effort's been great all year [Brayden]. When we do lose him, he is going to be a tough one to lose. He cares deeply about his teammates. We played him the minutes we played Nate last year. He's given us everything he has."

on what's next
"We need a couple days to work through disappointment, but I want them to feel it. I don't want them to not feel the pain. Losing a game like that- I don't want to liken it to a death in the family, but there's a lot of pain involved in it, we need to work through that- the denial, the anger. I do, I don't know if the players do, but I do. But it's still living. When you put your heart into something and you got either elation or your just crushed- that's living. Most people live in the middle- most people don't feel it, either one of those. They're living life. Life is hard. We have got to be able to gather ourselves and are hopeful we will play in a post-season tournament- There are things we need to play for. Our seniors have another opportunity which is great. We would love to win 20 games plus. There's still a lot to play for, so we need to work though this loss. It's going to take some work on our staff's part."

South Dakota State guard Brayden Carlson

on Fort Wayne
"They're a tough team, they're scrappy. They brought a lot of intensity to the game, I think that caused a lot of turnovers."  

on the year
"We had a good year. There's good things that we did, bad things that we did. It was an incredible senior season for all of us. Our expectations were to go to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. I think next year's team will be ready to go."        

South Dakota State guard Chad White

on Fort Wayne
"We knew coming in that it was going to be a scrap, fight, blood bath, they made a ton of plays when they needed to."