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IPFW moves on to next challenge after tough loss

– The bad news was that physics remained unmoved, in the end.

And so only three shots found a proper home across the last 10:41 Tuesday. And Steve Forbes’ short hook in the paint spun out instead of in, in the final seconds. And in the final second, Luis Jacobo’s bid to send The Summit League tournament championship into overtime sailed a little bit too far to the left.

North Dakota State 60, IPFW 57.

And the good news?

The Mastodons still aren’t finished, having accepted a bid Tuesday night to the College Insider Tournament.

That will suit IPFW coach Tony Jasick, who talked about the possibility Tuesday before the news broke.

“You guys can do the math,” he said. “What is it, 68, 32, 32, 32? We’re at the top of whatever that number is. So I hope our seniors get to play again, and I hope I get to coach them.

“This is a heck of a group. I wish it was Christmas right now and we had another 20 games with them. What they’ve done for our university and for our town, especially this weekend. … All the stuff that’s taken place because of these three days. You can’t buy it. You can’t replace it. It’s been a great run.”

And it isn’t quite finished.

“Like I said, if we get an invitation to play again, I’m sure without a doubt, our team, with the character of our guys, will want to play again,” Jasick said. “And we’ll compete.”

North Dakota State’s victory gave the Bison their first conference tournament title since 2009 and their second ever. And it wasn’t sealed until Jacobo’s desperation bid to tie sailed wide left as the horn sounded.

It was a fitting, if not proper, end to an evening in which the Mastodons played a dazzling first half and then went dry, making just three field goals across that last 10:41.

“I thought we left a lot of balls on the rim that just didn’t fall tonight for us,” Jasick said. “I thought Steve (Forbes) had three or four that were makes that just didn’t fall. And again, give credit to North Dakota State. They’re one of the best defensive teams in our league, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to convert on some of those plays.

“It’s unfortunate because I thought our guys competed hard enough to win the game.”

That was evident from the Bison’s own struggles. They went 7:23 without a field goal in the second half, got outrebounded 37-29, made just five of 16 3-pointers and shot just 41 percent. But Taylor Braun scored eight of the Bison’s last nine points down the stretch, and the Mastodons couldn’t quite fully answer.

“I thought that was high-level basketball game,” said Jasick, whose team was led by Jacobo, Michael Kibiloski and Pierre Bland, all of whom finished with nine points. “I give a lot of credit to really both teams, but I thought North Dakota State continued to compete. When you get here, you’ve got 13 guys on each team that are literally laying it on the line every possession. I think they played their butts off.”

bensmith@jg.net

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