SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (SDSU)– Kevin Obanor’s put back as time expired sent Oral Roberts to the Summit League championship game, as the Golden Eagles defeated South Dakota State 90-88 in semifinal action Monday night at the Sanford Pentagon.
It was a wild ending to a half filled with big shots by both teams, as South Dakota State (16-7) clawed back from a nine-point halftime deficit to tie the game, only to see Obanor end the Jackrabbits’ hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid.
Oral Roberts (15-6) advances to Tuesday night’s championship game where it will meet the winner of Monday’s other semifinal between South Dakota and North Dakota State.
Baylor Scheierman was outstanding. The sophomore from Aurora, Neb., posted a career-high 28 points on 8-of-18 shooting. He added nine rebounds and seven assists while playing all 40 minutes.
Douglas Wilson added 22 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth career double-double, while Matt Dentlinger (12), Alex Arians (10) and Luke Appel (10) were also in double figures for State.
Six Golden Eagles scored and all six were in double figures, led by Kareem Thompson’s career-high 22 points. SDSU held Max Abmas, the nation’s leading scorer to 18 points – six below his season average of 24 – but he dished out 10 assists and collected three steals while never exiting the game.
The teams exchanged the lead 12 times in the first 15 minutes of action until Oral Roberts switched out of its traditional man-to-man defense, implementing a 2-3 zone that halted the SDSU offense en route to a 9-0 run. That spurt gave the Golden Eagles control of the game and they never trailed the rest of the way.
It wasn’t without a tremendous Jackrabbit rally, however. SDSU trailed by seven points with 4:52 left and chipped away, but every time it got close, the Golden Eagles had an answer.
Trailing by five in the final 90 seconds, Scheierman drew a foul and converted two free throws. Charlie Easley stole a pass in the backcourt and Wilson scored on a putback to draw the Jacks within one, 83-82.
ORU’s Kareem Thompson answered with a 3-pointer from the corner as the shot clock was winding down, but Alex Arians responded with a deep triple of his own, and the Jacks were again down one, 86-85, with 24 seconds left.
Obanor scored on a dunk to put ORU back up three, but Scheierman was fouled on a 3-point attempt. He knocked down all three at the stripe to tie the game with nine seconds remaining, setting the stage for Obanor’s heroics.
Abmas drove the length of the floor and missed a floater off the right side of the rim. Obanor worked his way under the bucket and managed to flip the ball up into the air. It landed on the heel of the rim, bounced up and hit the heel a second time before rolling through the net as the horn sounded.