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South Dakota State takes Summit title with win over North Dakota State

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The Dakota Invitational, otherwise known as the Summit League men's basketball tournament, went south this time. South Dakota State was too much for North Dakota State when it counted in the second half.The Jackrabbits' 67-59...

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South Dakota State Jackrabbits guard Keaton Moffitt, left, attempts a shot over North Dakota State Bison guard Paul Miller, right, during the first half of the Summit League tournament championship at Denny Sanford Premier Center. (Photo by Steven Branscombe / USA TODAY Sports)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The Dakota Invitational, otherwise known as the Summit League men’s basketball tournament, went south this time.
South Dakota State was too much for North Dakota State when it counted in the second half.
The Jackrabbits’ 67-59 win before 10,188 fans at the Denny Sanford Premier Center - a league record for title game attendance - restored SDSU to the top perch after a two-year absence. It was the fifth straight year either NDSU or SDSU claimed the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, and this one came in front of one of the loudest arenas the Bison played in all season.
“It was just like playing them on the road basically,” said Bison guard Khy Kabellis. “They have a great fan base, and they were going crazy the whole game.”
The Bison got title-worthy performances from guards Carlin Dupree and Kabellis with 19 and 17 points, respectively, but couldn’t match the Jackrabbits’ balance after that. Center Mike Daum, the tournament Most Valuable Player, led four players in double figures with 18 points.
Perhaps the unsung hero was senior guard Keaton Moffitt, who hit 5 of 6 shots and had seven rebounds off the bench.
“Keaton was tremendous tonight,” said SDSU head coach Scott Nagy. “That was literally as hard as I’ve seen them play all season as far as being in tune with each other. NDSU always plays hard and they are tough, but I’m proud of how hard we played.”
The Bison, meanwhile, finished 20-13 in making their fourth straight title-game appearance.
“They made some big plays, and when they were open, they hit the shots,” Dupree said. “They made the right plays. We contested some of them, but all the credit goes to them.”
NDSU, the fifth seed, for the most part showed no effects of playing three games in three straight days. No team has won the Summit title taking that route with every champion playing its first round on Saturday and having Sunday off since the league went to the current format in 2009.
That trend continued.
“The kids are young, I think most times it happens because top seeds are there for a reason,” Nagy said. “We’ve talked about this, rewarding teams that do better. I think the coaches would like to see the format change a bit. It’s difficult to play three games in three days. It’s difficult playing three games in four days.”
Perhaps the biggest problem the Bison had going into the final 20 minutes was foul trouble. Starters A.J. Jacobson and Kory Brown and backup center Chris Kading all had two fouls. That didn’t play into the second half until Brown got his fourth with 6 minutes left. But neither team lost sight of each other, either with Kabellis instrumental in keeping the Bison offense going with seven points in the first seven minutes.
Deondre Parks’ 3-point field goal with 4 minutes, 4 seconds left gave the Jacks their biggest lead at 59-48. NDSU, meanwhile, struggled to find a good look until it went with five guards on the floor. A quick seven straight by Kabellis and Dupree got it back in the game.
The Bison got within 61-57 with 1:31 left and had the ball 30 seconds later, but Dupree was stopped on a contested drive to the hoop and the Jacks were never threatened after that. They were a perfect 6 of 6 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds.

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