Sioux Falls, SD (SportsNetwork.com) - For the second year in a row, the North Dakota State Bison are champions of the Summit League.
The second-seeded Bison held on down the stretch to win a thrilling 57-56 contest over the top-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the Summit League championship game Tuesday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
Summit League Player of the Year Lawrence Alexander paved the way for North Dakota State (23-9) with 25 points, connecting on 6-of-9 from 3-point range in the win. A.J. Jacobson added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bison, who are now tied with Oral Roberts for the most conference titles (three) out of any other program in the league.
Cody Larson scored 19 points and hit a perfect 9-of-9 from the free-throw line to lead South Dakota State (23-10). Deondre Parks chipped in with 13 points and six boards, and Reed Tellinghuisen pulled down a team-best nine rebounds in the loss, which was the first in the team's past three outings.
It was a back-and-forth battle the entire way through, but North Dakota State was able to grab a 51-42 lead over the Jackrabbits with 6:35 to play, which helped the team separate late in the contest.
South Dakota State made a run to cut the deficit to one point, 57-56, with 23 seconds remaining after a pair of Larson free throws. But a Parks 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark, handing the conference crown to the Bison.
North Dakota State took its largest lead of the opening half, 10-5, with 16:54 to play on a Jacobson 3-pointer. But a 10-3 run for the Jackrabbits over the next 6:17 gave South Dakota State its first lead since a 3-2 advantage less than a minute after the opening tip.
It was a dismal first half in terms of shooting. North Dakota State connected on 30.8 percent of its attempts from the floor, while South Dakota State made 24.1 percent, which included a 1-of-8 mark from 3-point range.
The lead changed six times, and the score was tied another six in the opening period alone. There were eight lead changes and nine tied scores in the entire game.
North Dakota State is making its third NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the Summit League title, and its second in a row ... The Bison and the Jackrabbits have combined for the last four conference championships ... NDSU held a 43-36 advantage in rebounding, and limited South Dakota State to a mere 31.6 percent shooting in the win.