(1) South Dakota State 72, (5) Fort Wayne 56
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Defending league champion South Dakota State (24-9) advanced to the title game of the 2013 Summit League Men's Basketball Tournament with a 72-56 semifinal victory over Fort Wayne Monday night at the Sioux Falls Arena.
For the second night in a row, Fort Wayne got off to a fast start. SDSU started off failing to score on its first five possessions, and the Mastodons capitalized on the one-and-done performance by SDSU by opening a 10-0 lead. Chad White hit a jumper to get the Jackrabbits on the board.
When Fort Wayne's all-league guard Frank Gaines hit his third three-pointer of the game, the Mastodons had a 16-5 lead, and were up 23-11 following a layup by Joe Edwarads with 11:03 to play in the half.
Then the Jacks started chipping away as White's traditional three-point play made it 25-21 before Nate Wolters added a pair of free throws cutting it to 25-23.
And SDSU actually took the lead once, on a basket by Marcus Heemstra, before Gaines hit another trey, giving Fort Wayne a 34-32 halftime lead.
After that, it didn't take long for South Dakota State to take charge. White hit back-to-back threes for a 44-41 SDSU lead, and when Jordan Dykstra hit a three with 12:52 to play, the Jacks were on top 52-45. Dysktra ended a 10-0 SDSU run with another basket for a 54-45 margin.
And when Dykstra hit a three, off Wolters 10th assist of the game, it was 53-48.
While SDSU shot 67 percent (12-of-18) in the second half, including 7-of-10 on three-point attempts, Fort Wayne had just nine field goals on 39 percent shooting (9-of-23) including 1-for-9 on threes.
Wolters finished with an 18-point, 12-assist double-double. White was 6-for-7 from the field including 4-of-5 on three-point attempts, and finished with 17 points and five rebounds. Tony Fiegen hit 6-of-8 shots and scored 16 points.
For the game, the Jackrabbits shot 61.5 percent (24-of-39) and were 15-of-17 at the foul line. SDSU also had a 29-17 rebound advantage as Dykstra finished with nine points and nine boards.
Gaines led all scorers with 25 points, counting four three-point baskets among his nine field goals. But he was the only player in double figures for the Mastodons, which shot 44 percent for the game (22-of-50). Luis Jacobo led Fort Wayne on the boards with five rebounds.
Fort Wayne, the No. 5 seed, ends its season 16-17.
--South Dakota State's Nate Wolters recorded 12 assists (tied career-high) in the game, tying for the second-highest total in Summit League Tournament history. He became the first player to record a 10-assist game since the 2009 semifinals.
--South Dakota State won its fifth straight Summit League Tournament game, equaling the fourth-longest streak in history.
--South Dakota State's 16-point victory matched its margin in the 2012 semifinal victory (63-47 over Southern Utah).
--The No. 1 seed has won 18 of its last 20 semifinal games and now has a 22-6 all-time record in the round.
--By reaching the semifinal round, Fort Wayne tied its deepest run in Summit League Tournament history (also 2008 and 2010).
--Frank Gaines scored 25 points, second-highest to date in this year's tournament.
South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy
"Well, it was a tale of two halves for us, I think the players would admit that we were pretty soft in the first half. The plan was to get off to a better start, I mean the first two times we played these guys they just out-physicaled us, and so I thought we were prepared and we weren't, they were ready to go. They were playing great; six straight wins with three of those being Oakland, who we know is a great team. The plan is to not let games get going and it gets going right away, I mean all the things we had planned for went out the window in a hurry. I was proud of the way the kids didn't panic. I mean, we're a group where we've got enough veterans that we're not going to panic. And then in the second half we guarded and we didn't give up. They were shooting 39 percent, I see they missed 14 shots and we didn't give up one offensive rebound in the second half and for us that is a difference. They had 17 rebounds the whole game, we had 29 and that's the big key for us. We were good offensively, we shot the ball and all that stuff's great, but that stuff doesn't win championships. The defense and rebounding is going to win it for us."
on starting off with a run in the second half
"Yeah, those were four-straight plays that I drew up. But no, no, just our kids playing with a little more sense of urgency I think that was it. But I mean the best part about it for me was that you come out and hit four-straight threes, and I look up and we're up by three points. When they called a time out I was telling players I could care... I gotta be careful how I say it because obviously I love the fact that we're making shots, but they were three for four on the other end, so 35 percent to start the other half and that's the kind of stuff that needed to end if we were going to win the basketball game."
on Jordan Dykstra's struggle against the Mastodons this season
"It's the way they guard him, they stick to him and they're not going to let him get loose. He said that at halftime, he sat down next to me before the start and said he just can't get open and I said 'Then you just screen them. All you do is screen and screen because your guy won't help and you got to get other people open. You can't worry about the point or anything else, you just got to get other people open, that's all that matters.'"
on Nate Wolters' influence in calming Chad (White) and the younger players
"Normally I'm not crazy about that kind of stuff, but we need a little bit of it, to be honest. I call it getting 'grimy' and we need to get grimy. I'm not interested in being dirty, but we need some people to light some fires under us and if somebody says something I don't expect our players to just stand there and take it. I'm generally not that way, but we need a little bit of that fire. Chad (White)'s got the personality to do that for us. We've got such a calm group like they said, we go in there at halftime and you'd expect somebody would have said something and they're just waiting for me to come in and it's a very quiet group. A very quiet group. And it serves us well sometimes, and sometimes it hurts us."
on whether he prefers balanced games
"We would rather have balance, there isn't any question about that, but if Nate can get 53, we'll take that, too. I like balance, but we've got a guy that's one of the leading scorers in the country and so I mean, it's a workforce. I've coached other teams where we had balance and that's a workforce, too. It was nice to see Chad (White) step up and take some pressure off Nate (Wolters) tonight."
South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters
on how he was defended this time compared to the last time he played Fort Wayne
"On the ball speed, they were trapping a little bit better and holding a little bit longer and that's why Tony (Fiegen) was rolling to the hoop and Chad (White) was getting open as well. I mean, we were really struggling early, but Chad (White) really got us going by hitting those big shots."
on if tomorrow's game is going to be emotional
"Definitely. I mean this whole week has been emotional for all of us. I mean we want it. We've worked so hard all summer and all year to get to this moment and have games like this and it's a lot of fun and there will definitely be a lot of emotions."
on the challenges presented by either of the teams
"I mean, they're both really similar and great defensive teams which kinds of slows the pace down which is a lot like the championship game last year against Western Illinois, so they're both tough teams and whichever we play it will be a battle, I'm sure."
on how his experience will help him in the next 24 hours
"I mean, Marcus (Heemstra) said we've been riding on adrenaline since noon today, so I mean it doesn't—it never gets—experience doesn't really matter right now. We're all jacked up. I mean, maybe a little bit, but our emotion will be running high tomorrow I'm sure, but it's a lot of fun and these are the moments, I mean, this is what we play for."
South Dakota State guard Chad White
on being more emotional tonight and hitting some big shots
"Yeah, we came out flat, like coach said. The game plan wasn't going when we got things going and in a game like that towards the end of the year I got a little bit emotional when things got going."
on what the team did at halftime in the locker room to get fired up
"Um, we're a pretty quiet team when it comes to halftime. We usually just wait for coach to get in there and make a speech for us."
on why the team was more balanced tonight
"I'd say that in the second half I thought we got going because of our defense got running. In the first half we weren't moving and Nate did a good job of finding people to drive in. They were kind of playing with the safety shooters and last time Nate just took it to the hole and we got going, we stuffed the shooters and got a lot of good shots.
Fort Wayne head coach Tony Jasick
"This is the best I've seen South Dakota (State) play in the second half. We did not execute in the second half the way we did in the first. We cannot do that against a really good team in a great environment."
on defending South Dakota State
"In the first half, we guarded him the same way. I believe the key to defending South Dakota State is to not let the other guys get going. We did not do a great job offensively at all midway through the second half and that allowed them to get in transition. They are nearly unguardable in transition."
Fort Wayne guard Frank Gaines
on quick start to the game
"Just sharing the ball and getting open shots. It kind of got away from us in the second half."
on what changed in the second half, South Dakota State's defense or shots not falling
"Shots not falling. I feel like we got worn down especially coming off back-to-back games. It definitely got tough for us in the second half."
(3) North Dakota State 55, (2) Western Illinois 43
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – North Dakota State will return to the championship game of The Summit League Men's Basketball Tournament for the first time since winning the title in 2008 after defeating Western Illinois 55-43 in the semifinals Monday night.
The Bison will take a 24-8 record into the championship game against defending league champion South Dakota State (24-9). Game time is 8 p.m. CT at the Sioux Falls Arena with the game also televised live on ESPN2. The teams split during the regular season, each winning on its home court.
NDSU, which lost to WIU twice during the regular season, led 24-20 at the half and opened a 37-28 lead on a layup by Kory Brown with 11:38 to play.
Western Illinois cut it to 37-34 on a jumper by Adam Link before TrayVonn Wright buried back-to-back three pointers to put the Bison back in charge.
Wright led the Bison with 19 points, hitting 5-of-8 three-point shots, and also had seven rebounds. Taylor Braun added 14 points and seven boards.
Link was the only player in double figures for Western Illinois, with 12 points. The Leathernecks lost all-league guard Ceola Clark III to an injury with 9:20 to play and were already playing without all-league post player Terell Parks, sidelined with an injury.
NDSU out-shot WIU 46.2 percent (18-of-39) to 35.7 percent (15-of-42) and had a 30-21 rebounding advantage.
--Tonight's session attendance was 6,676. That total is the highest semifinal session attendance in Sioux Falls and the most since the 1994 tournament in suburban Chicago.
--Through three days of the 2013 Summit League Championships, attendance is 32,171. That figure is 3,560 more than at the same time last year when the total attendance record of 40,269 was set.
--North Dakota State advanced to the championship game for the second time in school history (won title in 2009).
--North Dakota State is the first No. 3 seed to reach the championship game since 2009 (Oakland) and only the second in the past 15 tournaments.
on team playing without Braun earlier this year
"I think it has developed us depth wise. You see Chris Kading running around making plays and maybe he is a little more confident making and you got TrayVonn being asked to score."
North Dakota State forward TrayVonn Wright
on his shooting tonight
"I felt it tonight. I actually didn't shoot that good during warm-ups. I was open, after the first one I thought I would take a heat-check and shoot the second one it was deep, I made it and so I thought it was going to be a good night."
North Dakota State guard Taylor Braun
on after Ceola Clark III got hurt
"They played with a big spark. Coach said in the huddle to expect that and try to handle that the best we could. TrayVonn then came back down and hit a couple threes, which helped us get a more comfortable lead."
on matchup against South Dakota State
"I think we matchup with them very well. Nate Wolters is a great player. It's always a handful to contain him, but I think we have a pretty good team too. So it should a very interesting and exciting game. I know we are all looking forward to it."
North Dakota State guard Lawrence Alexander
on the game plan vs. Western Illinois
"Our game plan was to try to slow down Ceola (Clark III), since (Terell) Parks is down, he has been picking up his scoring. I think we did a good job on Ceola for most of the part when he was in."
Western Illinois head coach Jim Molinari
"I want to congratulate North Dakota State. They're very classy. We've had a little run against them, won some games against them. They were always dignified; we want to credit them. But really game is not much the issue, now. It was just heartbreaking to see that happen to Ceola (Clark III) and that's really the story. So we're just praying for Ceola (Clark III) and hopefully it's not as bad as it appears. He's given his body, his heart and he's given everything to our program so it was just tragic to see that happen to him tonight."
on Ceola Clark III
"Well, it's bad, I think. But I'm not a doctor. I think it's his knee. You can't always tell how bad they go down. So I didn't say anything, just tried to hold his hand."
on Celoa's injury if it was new or recurring
"I don't think so, it's how you go down. It kind of reminded me of when Derek Rose went down, when a guy all of a sudden comes down awkwardly so I don't know much about that."
on how he felt about Terrell and the other players
"Yeah, we haven't talked about Terrell. You know, Terrell did everything to play today but he just couldn't move. So, yeah, I'm proud of all of them. I was hoping we'd still play some more so I think we have a good chance. It's been a great senior class. I'm proud of Western. I'm proud of everyone that came. We had a tremendous presence. You have to remember, the first year that we were here. We might have had more people here than we had at our first home game. And just the whole school, it's a tremendous school with tremendous leadership. People care about the right things, they really care about student-athletes and our presence here was exciting—that's what made it disappointing. In terms of the game itself, the key was made threes and to give TrayVonn Wright a lot of credit, he made a lot of threes. He made the first two, and they made 39—37 he made that three and because we're a little undersize we have to double the post and then I thought that the second one he made was contested and that pretty much took our spirit out . So then 39-37 I think he made it to 45-37 and I thought that was a big deal."
on post-season expectation
"It depends on what happens tomorrow night. South Dakota State would have the automatic in, but if they did win I would expect them to have a chance. Stay positive on that Terrell will get better. Again, I just want to say before I leave: there's not much else to talk about, but I'm really thankful. It's been a season of great struggle, a lot of guys played through injury, but the Lord has really blessed our program and these young men. We didn't reach our ultimate goal, but they still won a regular season championship title that provided plenty of memories."
Western Illinois forward Jack Houpt
on how it felt to see Ceola Clark III go down tonight
"It was real tough. I've been here with him since the beginning and helped put this program on the map, and all the hard work we put in together and how he sacrificed his body so much like Coach Mo (Molinari) said. And also, just being his roommate is also just terrible to see this happening to him. He's just played through so many injuries. This is, what? His third ACL tear? I think. So, it's just.. it's terrible."
Western Illinois forward Don McAvoy III
on making some big shots after Ceola Clark III went down
"We just wanted to do it for Ceola (Clark III). I mean, Ceola (Clark III) built a legacy here, really. I mean, the team was built around him. He always had our backs and made big shots and we just wanted to play as hard as we could for him and we know he did everything he could to be out there, but obviously his injury prevented him from doing so. We really just wanted to try our best to leave it all on the court and try to make a comeback."