NDSU men going to Big Dance
After rallying to beat Oakland, Mich., in the Summit League championship Tuesday night in Sioux Falls, North Dakota State University earned an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
Ben Woodside hit a 17-foot jump shot with 3.3 seconds left in the game and the Bison prevailed 66-64 at the Sioux Falls Arena.
Oakland's final shot at the buzzer hit the back of the rim and bounced away.
The NDSU fans mobbed the players at center court after the final buzzer.
Morris native Brett Winkelman, a senior forward who scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 37 minutes, was on the bottom of the pile.
"I got trampled after the game," an excited Winkelman told the Tribune by telephone after the game. "But I'd let them trample me every game for the feeling I have right now."
Sam Sussenguth, a redshirt junior foward from Willmar, played nine minutes and had three rebounds and a blocked shot.
NDSU won the conference title earlier this year and needed to avenge two previous losses to Oakland to win the conference tournament championship and reserve a spot in the 65-team NCAA field.
"We had two goals at the beginning of the year and we achieved them both," said Winkelman. "We wanted to win the conference title and we wanted to get to the NCAA."
This is the first year of Division I eligibility for the Bison (26-6).
Things didn't look good for the Bison as Oakland quickly grabbed a 14-point lead and maintained a 10-point lead through most of the game until the Bison began to rally with 4:30 left.
"They couldn't miss at the beginning of the game," said Winkelman. "This is still a little hard to believe. We're all staring at each other with smiles on our faces."
Michael Tveidt's three-pointer, his fourth of the game, put NDSU ahead 64-62 with 1:26 remnaining.
Oakland (22-12) tied it at 64-all on Keith Benson's dunk with 12 seconds left.
NDSU didn't call a timeout and set a screen for Woodside, who calmly sank a shot from the top of the key.
Tveidt led NDSU with 21 points. Woodside, the conference player of the year, added 17.