Tremendous Season Comes to a Close
NDSU Men’s Basketball Team Falls Short in Championship Game
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 16:03
Nate Zastrow came into the Bison basketball program in the fall of 2009 following the NDSU men’s basketball team’s only trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bison haven’t been back for three years and made it clear that their goal was to get the senior Zastrow to the big dance.
The (24-9) Bison fell one game short of their goal, losing to (25-9) South Dakota State in the Summit League Championship, 67-73, and missing out on their last chance to get Zastrow dancing.
“That kid put his heart and soul into our team,” junior guard Taylor Braun said. “I just feel bad that we couldn’t make enough plays for him because I wanted to send him to the tournament one time.”
Zastrow played in 31 of the possible 33 games this season for the Bison, averaging 7.7 minutes a game. He had a big game on senior night back on Feb. 26 against Utah Valley when he scored ten points while hitting two big three-pointers in the second half to pull away from the Wolverines.
Zastrow ended his career with 105 total games played, scoring 369 points in his career and hitting 82 percent of his free throws.
As Zastrow moves on to the next chapter of his basketball career, Braun and the rest of the Bison know the loss their bitter rivals will be tough pill to swallow going into next season.
“They made a few runs and I felt like we answered each one, they just made a few more than we did,” Braun said. “Definitely a terrible feeling right now, it’s tough to go out like this.”
Braun was magnificent throughout the tournament in Sioux Falls, scoring 64 combined points in the three games. That mark was only one point less than the tournament MVP, Nate Wolters, who had 65 for SDSU. Braun was nearly perfect from the free throw line nailing 28 of his 30 free throw attempts, including the 16 he poured in to put away Kansas City, 69-58, in the first round.
Braun was quieted by the stifling defense of Western Illinois but was still able to score 14 points during the semi-final upset over the No. 2 seeded Leathernecks, 55-43.
Wolters and the heavily favored Jacks were too much for the Bison in the championship game, answering the bell every time it looked like the Bison were going to start a scoring run.
“I’m in love with this whole team,” head coach Saul Phillips. “They are terrific and it hurts I couldn’t get them seven more points.”
The outlook next season is very promising for the Bison as they will be returning their top six scorers including first team all-Summit League performer Marshall Bjorklund, two second teamers, Braun and Lawrence Alexander and Summit League Sixth Man of the Year Mike Felt.
The 24 wins for the Bison this season was the most since 2009 when they won 26 games.