Callahan carries Jacks to upset win

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

The SDSU men’s basketball team knocked off three-time defending Summit League Champion Oral Roberts 72-69 in overtime during the quarterfinals of the Summit League tournament on March 7. The win came in front of 5,481 fans at the Sioux Falls Arena.

With so many close games going against the Jacks this season, it was set up for another heartbreaking defeat, with the second seed Golden Eagles (16-15) having a nine-point advantage with less than nine minutes left.

A SDSU run of 30 points in the last eight minutes was capped off with a Garrett Callahan free throw to complete a three-point play with 16 seconds left to tie the game at 61.

The extra session was tightly contested with four ties and three lead changes. Callahan, who scored a career-high 30 points, had the last seven Jackrabbit points in overtime, including another old fashioned three-point play to give SDSU a one-point lead with a minute left and a pair of free throws with three seconds left to give the Jacks a three-point victory.

“The mantra when I talked to the players before the game was ‘not tonight,'” said SDSU head coach Scott Nagy. “Even when we were down six [with two minutes left], they said ‘not tonight.'”

“We were playing hard, and that hard work paid off,” Callahan said. “Seeing that in the guys’ eyes, you haven’t seen that in a while.”

The nearly 5,500 fans that packed the Arena provided that extra edge that the Jacks have not had in a while: a boisterous pro-SDSU crowd.

“We have played in some big gyms before, and the players were used to it,” said Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton. “I would say it helped [SDSU] more than it hurt us.”

Oral Roberts had a nine-game Summit League Tournament winning streak snapped, a stretch that included three championships. Prior to the game, the Golden Eagles’ last Summit League Tournament loss came in the 2005 championship to Oakland.

The SDSU win was only the sixth win in 24 chances for a seven seed over a two.

The emotion went beyond the crowd, as sophomore guard Dale Moss had to deal with the illness of his mom who was in an Omaha hospital as she has been battling a long case of liver failure. It was unknown if the Brandon Valley graduate would play or not, yet Moss ended up with 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out in overtime.

“We have been through a lot,” said Moss. “Six points down, we know we just had to stick together.”

Anthony Cordova played all but two minutes despite having a hand injury, adding eight points, six assists and four rebounds.

“I just wanted this for my team,” said Cordova. “I do whatever I can for the team. I did this for my good friend’s mom. Dale’s family is really close to mine. If she can go through it, I can play through this crappy hand.”