SDSU Claim Summit League Crown, Off To The Big Dance
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota State men's basketball earned the Summit League Tournament crown and the automatic bid to the NCAA March Madness Tournament after a hard-fought 75-69 victory over North Dakota State Tuesday night in the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
Charlie Easley finished with 15 points, including three key 3-pointers, as Zeke Mayo, who in part helped solidify the win with a pair of free throws, chipped in 12 points. Baylor Scheierman ended the night with 11 points and four assists and Alex Arians, who hit the 1,000 career point mark on the first bucket of the night, tossed in 10 points.
SDSU (30-4) shot 44 percent from the floor, 40 percent from behind the arc, and 81 percent from the free-throw line. Neither team attempted a free throw in the first half, but SDSU was 13-of-16 in the second half, and it proved to be helpful to the victory.
It was a tale of physicality and grit as the Jacks and Bison (23-10) battled for the conference title. SDSU started hot, jumping out to a fast 14-4 lead at the 14:37 mark with a loud Jackrabbit student section proudly cheering them on.
But the tables soon turned, as NDSU started shooting well. The Bison were able to tie it up 22-22 with 7:05 remaining in the half. It remained close throughout the remainder of the half, as the teams tied up again, but SDSU closed the half with the 33-28 advantage over the Bison.
Second half action picked up right where the last half left off as the close battle continued. Sam Griesel became a hard task to deal with, as he scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half.
SDSU, though, did not waver. Key defensive plays by Easley and Scheierman helped push the Jackrabbits through low points and give the players, and the crowd much-needed momentum.
North Dakota State again tied the game twice this half with the last tie being 56-56 at the 5:45 mark. In that time frame, NDSU briefly held a one-point lead for 16 seconds, but SDSU kept hitting shots and was sent to the line 13 times, drilling 10 of them. The final four points for SDSU were from Mayo and Easley, who each hit a pair of clutch free throws.
The Jackrabbits now wait until Selection Sunday on March 13 to see where they will be placed in the bracket and who they will face. The broadcast reveal will air at 5 p.m. CT on CBS.