South Dakota State joins the dance
Jackrabbits hold off Western Illinois in OT to win Summit League
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Griffan Callahan hit a 3-pointer with 1:30 left in overtime and South Dakota State got stops the last two times Western Illinois had the ball to beat the Leathernecks 52-50 in the Summit League tournament championship game on Tuesday night.
The Jackrabbits (27-7) earned the Summit’s automatic NCAA tournament bid and will make their first NCAA appearance as Division I members.
Western Illinois (18-14) lost in its first Summit final since 1997 and was denied its first NCAA berth.
Nate Wolters led the Jackrabbits with 14 points. Callahan, who made two free throws at the end of regulation to force overtime, added 10 points.
Terell Parks led Western Illinois with 19 points.
After Callahan’s shot gave the Jackrabbits the lead, Western Illinois turned it over when Ceola Clark lost control of the ball and committed a shot-clock violation.
The same thing happened to SDSU on the other end, with Wolters unable to get his shot from the baseline off before the clock ran out.
Tommie Tyler had a chance for a final shot after the Leathernecks got the ball back with 10 seconds left, but he couldn’t get his short shot to fall. Terell Parks rebounded but had the ball stripped by SDSU’s Brayden Carlson, who held it a moment before the buzzer sounded and SDSU’s students rushed the court.
Western Illinois, picked to finish ninth in the preseason, came to Sioux Falls as the No. 4 seed and upset No. 1 Oral Roberts in the semifinals.
The Leathernecks were the lowest seed since 2006 to make it this far. Before this year, the Leathernecks hadn’t won a Summit tournament game since 1999.
Wolters, who scored 31 points against Southern Utah on 10-of-17 shooting, was just 5 of 22 from the floor.
Each team endured long rough patches offensively. South Dakota State’s slump bridged the first and second halves and allowed the Leathernecks to build a 12-point lead. Western Illinois struggled late and let the Jackrabbits come back to force overtime.
The Jackrabbits won despite shooting 35 percent, while Western Illinois shot 40 percent.
There were nine lead changes and four ties early before the Leathernecks held the Jackrabbits scoreless for 6 1/2 minutes and rolled off 10 consecutive points to go up 33-24 after Tyler’s length-of-the-court drive and dunk early in the second half.
Wolters ended SDSU’s 10:06 stretch without a field goal when he banked in a runner, and he scored again a few minutes later to start a 9-2 spurt that pulled the Jackrabbits to 44-42 with 3 1/2 minutes left.
The Leathernecks made just one field goal in the last 7:40 of regulation, giving the Jackrabbits ample opportunity to come back.
The Jackrabbits twice had chances to tie or take the lead before finally pulling even. Wolters was off the mark with a 3-point attempt and badly missed when he tried to take Houpt to the hoop before Callahan’s two free throws made it 44-all with 15.3 seconds left.
The Leathernecks tried to win it on a last shot. Clark let the clock run down under five seconds before he ducked under Wolters at the left wing and put up a shot that glanced off the rim just ahead of the buzzer.