North Dakota State tops Western Illinois 56-52

MACOMB, Ill. (AP) Taylor Braun scored 19 points as North Dakota State topped Western Illinois 56-52 Thursday night, maintaining sole possession of first place in the Summit League.

North Dakota State (19-6, 8-2) held off Western Illinois (9-15, 3-6) late, making 5 of 6 free throws in the last 20 seconds.

The Leathernecks never led after halftime, but kept the deficit within 10 points. With North Dakota State up 46-45, Marshall Bjorklund hit a pair of free throws before Kory Brown’s basket with 3:12 left gave the Bison a 50-45 lead.

Jabari Sandifer’s 3-pointer with 7 seconds brought Western Illinois within 55-52, but Braun made 1 of 2 at the line as the Bison held on.

Lawrence Alexander scored 14 points while Bjorklund added 12 points for the Bison.

Adam Link and Sandifer scored 13 apiece for the Leathernecks.

North Dakota State holds a one-game lead over IPFW with four conference games remaining.