South Dakota State men win Summit championship, 67-59
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) Freshman forward Mike Daum scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds Tuesday night to lead South Dakota State to a 67-59 win over North Dakota State to capture the Summit League championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Deondre Parks added 14 points for the Jackrabbits (26-7), who advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the past five years.
Carlin Dupree led North Dakota State (20-13) with 19 points, and Khy Kabellis added 17 for the Bison.
''They made some good shots,'' Dupree said. ''We contested some of them, and some of them we left them open.''
Much of the early matchups inside the paint centered on a couple of freshman forwards - the 6-foot-9, 230-pound Daum for the Jackrabbits and the Bison's big guy, 6-foot-6, 240 pound Dexter Werner. Werner scored nine points for the Bison.
Daum, who was the tournament MVP, said the Jackrabbits were able to play a fast-paced game.
''We had a lot better ball movement than we had during the past two games,'' Daum said.
South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy called Daum one of the most efficient players in college basketball, making good use of every minute he's out on the court.
Both teams came out cold, hitting just three of a combined 12 shots to open the game.
The Bison had a two-point lead midway through the first half when the Jackrabbits went on a seven-point run.
Parks hit a 3-pointer and added a layup, then Baum hit a jumper for his first points of the game.
But the Bison kept the Jackrabbits close, twice regaining the lead and then cutting South Dakota State's halftime lead to 30-29 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Dupree.
Tuesday night's Summit League title game highlighted two of the best defensive teams in the conference. North Dakota State has been holding opponents to an average of 64.4 points per game this season, best in the Summit League. South Dakota State has held its foes to a 41.5 shooting rate this season, best in the conference.
Tuesday night's game was the third time that North Dakota State and South Dakota State met in the Summit League final. The Jackrabbits topped the Bison 73-67 in 2013, and the Bison got even in 2015 with a 57-56 victory.
South Dakota State's championship game win wasn't as nail-biting as its earlier Summit League tournament victories. The Jackrabbits topped Oral Roberts 73-70 in the opener and then prevailed 54-53 over Denver in Monday's semifinals. ''We didn't want that to happen tonight,'' Dupree said.
Tuesday night's game drew a mostly Jackrabbits-friendly crowd of 10,188 fans to the Denny Sanford Premier Center, setting a new record for the Summit League championship. The tournament moved into the new, larger venue last year.
The Jackrabbits will learn their NCAA Tournament opponent on Sunday.
The Bison will have to wait and see if they'll get an invitation to a postseason tournament.