SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One night after winning in dramatic fashion, the North Dakota State men’s basketball team didn’t need late buckets to earn a spot in the Summit League Tournament championship.
The so-called “baby Bison” outlasted second-seeded South Dakota State and closed out a 89-79 victory in front of a crowd of 7,707 at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls. No. 3 seed North Dakota State (16-16) will take on top-seeded Oral Roberts in the championship game at 8 p.m.
SDSU dug itself into a big hole early, recovered, but then still trailed by 6 points at halftime.
“Control what you can control,” NDSU head coach David Richman said. “I’d rather play in front of 10,000 people than nobody – even if they’re against you.”
The Bison pushed their lead to double-digits 5 minutes into the second half and never let it fall under 10 points again.
SDSU head coach Eric Henderson said NDSU got at SDSU in the paint.
“The rebounding has been a concern of mine for the whole year,” Henderson said. “It’s a hard matchup. They gave us a lot of challenges.”
Alex Arians and Matt Mims carried the SDSU offense, scoring 20 points and 19 points, respectively. The Jackrabbits struggled shooting the ball, going 28-of-63 from the field for 44% shooting. Meanwhile, NDSU shot for 56%, going 32-of-57 from the field.
Grant Nelson stole the show for NDSU, posting a double-double in the first half alone. He finished with 20 points and 22 rebounds.
Boden Skunberg added 24 points, including 4 3-pointers.
NDSU has reached the Summit League Tournament championship five years in a row.
SDSU (19-12) will wait to see if a postseason tournament awaits. Henderson said he wasn’t sure what any postseason tournament opportunity would look like.