Sioux Falls, SD (SportsNetwork.com) - Yet another ticket will be punched to the NCAA Tournament Tuesday after the conclusion of the Summit League Tournament championship, which pits the second-seeded North Dakota State Bison against the top-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
The winner receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will be crowned the Summit League champion.
North Dakota State is the reigning Summit League champion after the Bison took down IUPU-Fort Wayne in last season's league tournament finale. The Bison went on to upset Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and will be looking for the same success here. NDSU took down third-seeded Oral Roberts in a tight 60-56 victory Monday in the semifinal match.
South Dakota State, which is tied for the second-most number of league titles with two (shared with North Dakota State), easily earned its spot in the Summit League championship after Monday night's convincing 78-65 victory over in-state rival South Dakota in the semifinal round.
North Dakota State and South Dakota State, a natural geographic rivalry, split the season series in 2014-15, with each team winning on its home court. The Bison took a 72-69 victory in Fargo back in early January, and the Jackrabbits won 68-58, in Brookings in mid-February.
North Dakota State stepped it up defensively against Oral Roberts on Monday night, holding the Golden Eagles to a mere 38.5 percent shooting touch from the field in the contest en route to the win. Lawrence Alexander netted 15 points with six rebounds to lead the team, while Carlin Dupree netted 13 points with seven boards and A.J. Jacobson added 11 points in the win. North Dakota State, like South Dakota State, has won two conference tournament titles in program history. The Bison boosted their Summit League Tournament record to 8-4 with the victory over Oral Roberts Monday.
NDSU advanced past Denver on Saturday to make it out of the first round of the tournament, and entered the semifinal round on Monday averaging 64.9 ppg offensively while giving up just 62.0 ppg to opponents. Alexander led the Summit League with 18.8 ppg entering Monday's clash, followed by Jacobson's 12.0 ppg. In North Dakota State's 10-point loss to South Dakota State in February, Alexander paced the way for the Bison with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Jacobson added 14 points and Dupree chipped in 10. NDSU shot just 39.6 percent from the floor in that road loss.
South Dakota State led from beginning to end against South Dakota in Monday night's semifinal clash. The Jackrabbits built a huge lead over the Coyotes, which reached 26 points early on in the second half. The Jackrabbits were led by Deondre Parks, who netted 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor. George Marshall chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds, as South Dakota State used 13 players in the team's victory over the Coyotes. The Jackrabbits own a 9-4 all-time record in the Summit League Tournament.
Cody Larson entered the semifinal round as South Dakota State's leading scorer, averaging 14.1 ppg on 51 percent shooting from the floor. Parks wasn't all that far behind, netting 13.9 ppg for the Jackrabbits, who went into the semifinal matchup netting 73.4 ppg as a unit. The win over the Coyotes on Monday was revenge for a regular-season finale loss to South Dakota, in which the Jackrabbits dropped an 80-64 contest that kept them from winning an outright Summit League regular-season title. The Jackrabbits easily took down North Dakota State back in February at home, thanks to a huge helping hand from Marshall, who netted 20 points in that game. Larson tallied a double- double with 11 points and 12 boards, while three other SDSU players netted double figures in the win.