(1) South Dakota State 73, (3) North Dakota State 67
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota State won its second-straight Summit League Men's Basketball Tournament with a 73-67 victory over North Dakota State Tuesday night at the Sioux Falls Arena.
South Dakota State senior guard Nate Wolters, the tournament MVP for the second straight year, played all 40 minutes and had 27 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals as the Jackrabbits improved to 25-9 and earned the league's automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
North Dakota State finished with two more field goals than SDSU, 25-23, including one more three, 7-6, but the Jacks hit 21-of-23 free throws. The Bison were a perfect 10-for-10 at the line. The Jacks also had a 29-26 rebounding advantage and were plus three, 10-7, in turnovers.
Playing before an announced attendance of 6,544, the Bison took an early 7-3 lead on a three-point basket by Lawrence Alexander.
SDSU tied the game on a layup by Jordan Dykstra and went ahead 9-7 on a layup by Chad White. The Jackrabbits never trailed again.
After leading 29-25 at the half, SDSU opened the second half with a pair of baskets by Tony Fiegen and pushed the margin to 11 on a three-pointer by Brayden Carlson making the score 36-25 with 16:35 to play.
South Dakota State had its largest lead with 11:45 to play, when a layup and free throw by Dykstra made it 48-36.
Down the stretch, the Jackrabbits had to answer a couple of Bison charges. Mike Felt's three-pointer made it 48-42 with just over 10 minutes to play but the Jacks countered to go ahead 52-42 following a basket by Wolters. When Felt hit another trey with 7:24 to go, the margin was down to 54-52.
Again, South Dakota State responded, this time getting a 64-56 lead on a layup by Wolters with 3:05 to play. SDSU's last nine points came at the free throw line, five by Wolters and four by Dykstra.
Dykstra added 18 points for South Dakota State and led the team with seven rebounds. Fiegen added 12 points.
Taylor Braun led the way for North Dakota State with 23 points, but was the only Bison player in double figures. TrayVonn Wright and Felt added nine each. Wright also had eight rebounds.
SDSU shot 47.9 percent for the game (23-of-48) while NDSU shot 46.3 percent (25-of-54).
North Dakota State is now 24-9 for the season.
--Tonight's session attendance was 6,544. The sellout crowd was the fourth-highest attended title game in Summit League history and most for a championship in Sioux Falls. It marks the best attendance for a Summit League Championship game since 1994 in suburban Chicago (Rosemont, Ill.).
--Total men's attendance for the tournament was 23,710, a new Summit League men's tournament record.
--The 2013 Summit League Championships total attendance (men's and women's combined) was 44,868, a new all-time record. The total eclipses the previous mark, set last season, by more than 4,000.
--All-Tournament Team: Taylor Braun, North Dakota State; Jordan Dykstra, South Dakota State; Tony Fiegen, South Dakota State; Frank Gaines, Fort Wayne; Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (MVP).
--South Dakota State have won back-to-back men's and women's titles. Oral Roberts is the only other school to accomplish this feat. (2007, 2008).
--This marked the first time since 2009 that both the men's and women's No. 1 seeds captured the title. (North Dakota State – men; South Dakota State – women).
--North Dakota State was 100 percent (10-of-10) from the free throw line while South Dakota State shot 91.3 percent (21-of-23) from the line. These mark the highest percentages with a minimum of 10 made since Illinois-Chicago went 10-for-11 (.909) in 1994.
South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy
on scoring 73 against North Dakota State
"We are one of the top offenses in the country per possession. A lot of times good offense can beat good defense. We got a player named Nate Wolters that no one has really ever been able to stop. It doesn't matter how good you are defensively, because we surround him with such good shooters and it puts a lot of pressure on the defense. I watched them last night and I was wondering how we were going to score on them, because they are committed to the defensive end. Saul has done a great job with them guys."
South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters
on comparing championship to last year
"About the same, just an unbelievable experience. It's been a lot of fun. We love playing here. We know to win two times in a row is a great opportunity for us."
on North Dakota State guarding him
"Kory Brown was guarding me. He is a really great defender. It's tough to find any driving lanes out there. My teammates did a great job of picking me up. We had really balanced scoring tonight."
North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips
"Obviously, congrats are in order to South Dakota State. I thought they came out and were maybe a little more aggressive physically than us early on. I think we made adjustments as the game went on, but it dug us a little bit of a hole. Our guys fought, they scrapped, and we had a chance to tie midway through the second half somewhere there with a three and it rims out. Wolters came down and really laid the shot clock, he hit a tough three. I thought that was pivotal. I love coaching this group and it's really, really hard."
on his team's sharpness vs. South Dakota State
"Yeah. We're a pretty good defensive team and they put up some pretty good offensive numbers but it came from some different areas. In the early second half, (Tony) Fiegen on the big and pops that we certainly knew he was capable of, but they executed. We know he likes to do that. When they execute the screen and roll well enough it's tough to do what you're supposed to do without leaving Nate (Wolters) or one of them free. They were very sharp. They looked comfortable in this environment. I thought the environment for us sometimes disrupted our communication. I don't think we were rattled by it, but we were definitely in the wrong spots at times because we couldn't communicate on the defensive end on our switches, and they obviously handled that environment much better."
on the future of the team and the fairness in playing in this kind of environment
"Yeah, you know what? First of all this year there's no argument. First of all, fair has got nothing to do with life or college basketball. It's not fair that I grew to 5'11" and had to play DIII. So forget all that noise. I hear coaches complain about that and I want to tear my hair out. Well that's probably going to happen anyways. Listen, look at our environment for a conference tournament game compared to other games around the nation. You look at half empty gyms and parking ramps somewhere. Guys, this is pretty neat and pretty darn special. You know, the people from Sioux Falls here do a terrific job and I happen to know pretty well a few of them that are heavily involved in putting this together, and I'm telling you what, they do one heck of a job. If that means we have to come down here and play in a loud gym, you know what? We can make that gym balance out, they don't just sell tickets here in South Dakota. I think our fans got snuck up on a little bit and I challenge them here—let's even this place out a little bit. We think we're going to be pretty good. We think we can do some things. They don't start selling Summit League Tournament tickets in secret, right? I mean, it's pretty well known. So, you know what? I'm throwing down the gauntlet to everybody in Bison Nation, let's fill this bad boy up next year. With us. It was filled, believe me."
on losing people on the outside when guarding Nate Wolters
"I thought at times our defensive spacing was a little bit off, maybe caught up in the moment. It doesn't take much, you know, with Nate (Wolters) I can talk all my secrets. I mean, obviously it didn't do a great job, right? With Nate (Wolters), he is so good at passing angles. He makes passes that other guards just don't make. So you're spacing off the ball. Your hands' outside of your body, the deflections that you have to get, you've got to be really really good with that and at times we weren't good enough. And you have to tip your cap to Nate (Wolters). I'm done playing him. It was wonderful. It was a great experience. Let's graduate him and get on to the next point guard."
on Lawrence Alexander
"Well, you know, really, Lawrence (Alexander)…. Until we put (Mike) Felt in the second half it wasn't extensively mano-y-mano in particular. But yeah, I mean, it's always tough. You know, Nate (Wolters) as a sophomore wasn't as good as Nate (Wolters) as a senior and Lawrence (Alexander) as a sophomore isn't going to be as good as Lawrence (Alexander) as a senior. But make no mistake about it; we don't win 24 games this year. We don't do half the neat things we've done if we don't have a terrific point guard in Lawrence Alexander, who, if I look around, the rosters of the league right now, he's going to be an elite player in this league. He had a tough night."
on next year
"Well what do you want him to say? 'I-I think we might have a chance…' is that the kind of attitude you want? No! He's our alpha male. Taylor (Braun) doesn't need to sit there and farce words. I can try to back out of any bold statement that he makes, that's fine. But I'm telling you right now, you'd be crazy not to think like he's thinking right now. At his age with what he's doing. In the job that he did coming back from that injury, I'm telling you guys. Doctors at Sanford, the trainers that we had, and the toughness of that kid to put up the numbers that he did. I mean what did he average when he came back? Guys, it's amazing, it's an amazing story. The kid's a gifted athlete one of the best mid-major players in the country."
on some of the bright spots from tonight
"Oh the fight. Did you see those guys till the end? They fought. There's no question about that. Taylor (Braun) was unbelievable. I thought at times he was pretty much un-guardable out there. And that's certainly a bright spot. Felt coming in and giving us a nice spark was a bright spot. It's not all doom and gloom, guys. It sure feels like it when you're not going to the NCAA tournament and the other team is out there cutting down the nets. Until you're sitting right here, you'll never know."
on Kory Brown's defense
"Kory (Brown) is a beast and he's going to do nothing but get better. He guarded a lot of very good players this year, including Mr. (Nate) Wolters. Most nights he had a lot of success, not a little success, a lot of success. That's true freshman that is going to be bugging people for three more years. And the kid is a winner, an absolute winner. He does everything I ask of him. This whole team. I'm in love with this team. They're terrific. It hurts that I couldn't give them seven more points.
North Dakota State guard Taylor Braun
on intensity of the atmosphere
"It was a great atmosphere. Obviously, there was a lot on the line tonight. Both teams fought. They made a few more plays than we did."
on Nate Wolters
"He's a hell of a player. Every time we cut it to two or three, it felt like he just made play after play. He's a senior and he's an All-American so, that's something you kind of expect him to do. Hell of a player."
on South Dakota State's defense
"I think we were a little stagnant. I don't know really, we just weren't making shots. We worked through that. We battled the whole game. I'm really proud of our effort. They made a few runs and I feel like we had some good turns. They made a few more than we did. It definitely is a terrible feeling right now to go out like this. I feel especially bad for Nate Zastrow. He's a senior and he put his heart and soul into our team and everyone's coming back next year except for Nate (Zastrow) so I just feel bad that we couldn't make enough plays for him to send him to the tournament one time."
on next year
"We're going to win it next year."
North Dakota State guard Lawrence Alexander
on Taylor Braun
"Taylor (Braun) means a lot to us. He carries us offensively and defensively he coordinates a lot. Like Taylor (Braun) said, they just made more plays than us and we needed a stop or a scorer and they just made more plays than us tonight."
on North Dakota State's defense vs. South Dakota State's offense
"They had good offense off the bucket and we had a couple of mishaps, some missed assignments a couple possessions where I got beat off the ball. And then Nate got a few layups or got his teammates open for shots. I would say maybe we just had a couple missed assignments."
on the importance of the three pointers
"Yeah, those threes that Mike (Felt) made for us… there's a reason why he's the sixth man of the year this year. He's come up to provide a lot of energy for us. Made a basket here and a basket there, but overall those threes are very important to the game to boost the energy."