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The Journal Gazette

  • Dave Eggen | Inertia IPFW's Kason Harrell shoots over the extended arm of North Dakota State's A.J. Jacobson during Sunday's Summit League Tournament game.

Monday, March 05, 2018 1:00 am

North Dakota St. 86 IPFW 82

1st-half hole too big for IPFW

Mastodons ousted in Summit opener

MATT ZIMMER | For The Journal Gazette

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – IPFW fell in the first round of the Summit League tournament Sunday as No. 5 seed North Dakota State built a big lead and held on down the stretch to bounce fourth-seeded Mastodons 86-82 at the Premier Center.

IPFW had beaten the Bison in both regular-season meetings, and by the end of the night was playing well enough to beat them a third time. But a dreadful first half was too much to overcome.

With the win, North Dakota State (15-16) advances to today's semifinals against top-seeded and defending champion South Dakota State. The Mastodons end their season at 18-14.

“Disappointed in the first half,” IPFW coach Jon Coffman said. “We were not us. We took some tough shots in crowds, the ball froze, and it leaked into our defense. At the end of the day, you look back through the year and you're disappointed in some things, but the one thing I've never been disappointed in with this group is the absolute resilience they have.”

The Bison led 49-31 at halftime and pushed that lead to 23 points in the first four minutes of the second half. That's when IPFW got going.

The Mastodons finally had their shot with 1:29 to go when a Bryson Scott layup cut the lead to 81-80 and then Paul Miller missed the front of a 1-and-1, but the Mastodons turned it over in their attempt to take the lead, and Cameron Hunter hit three key free throws down the stretch as North Dakota State hung on.

“It was tough,” Miller said. “A couple of their guys really started to get going. (John) Konchar played well, Scott played another fantastic game. When things go bad, I kind of put it on my shoulders to get us going and make a play.”

Konchar and Scott had 29 apiece for the Mastodons. Konchar added 12 rebounds, six assists and two blocks and was 12 of 18 from the floor.

IPFW shot 62 percent from the floor in the second half, including 6 for 9 from the 3-point line.

“I know our team will never lose hope in each other,” Konchar said. “I knew we'd fight back.”

The Mastodons trailed 64-44 with 12:06 to go, but a 15-5 run cut the advantage to 10, and a 3-pointer by Jax Levitch with 5:38 to go had the lead down to four. Miller kept answering, and hit a 3 to push the lead back to eight at 78-70 with 4:42 left.

Miller finished with 29 points and eight rebounds, hitting 5 of 8 on 3-pointers. Reserve Deng Geu was 6 of 7 from the floor for 14 points, and Tyson Ward had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.