Men’s basketball falls short at Summit League Championships

Jackrabbits to face off against Colorado State in National Invitational Tournament this week

The South Dakota State men’s basketball team came up just one point short of going to the big dance when they fell to the North Dakota State Bison 57-56 in the Summit League Tournament Championship.

With just over nine minutes left in the game the Bison had 41-40 lead when they would go on a 10-2 run to give them a 51-42 lead. The Jacks would be down 57-49 with 2:53 left in the game when the Jacks would then go on a 7-0 run to make the score 57-56 with 27 seconds left on the clock.

Deondre Parks shot a three with just seconds left after a missed free throw from the Bison’s Lawrence Alexander. The buzzer sounded and just like that the Jacks’ dream of going to the NCAA Tournament was shattered as Parks’ shot fell off the backboard.

“I had the shot, I jumped up with confidence and it just didn’t fall,”  Parks, who finished the game with 13 points, said on the last shot. 

“It was a great game, obviously,” head coach Scott Nagy said. “We weren’t great offensively and I think you have to give them credit for that. It was a very physical game. I was proud of our kids. When we got down there nine or 10 points, they didn’t quit and gave us a chance to win.”

Nagy spoke about his team’s effort and coming up short in a press conference after the game. “This is what living feels like. I think most people don’t try and live in the middle and don’t put their hearts out there and protect themselves. When you put your heart out there in front of these people and sometimes it’s unbelievable and sometimes it’s incredibly painful but that’s what living feels like and I hope they live the rest of their lives that way and don’t protect themselves,” Nagy said. 

The Jackrabbits had one timeout left when Alexander missed the free throw.

“Either way we weren’t going to call timeout, I mean they would’ve had to call timeout. We knew what we we’re going to do. I wish Deondre would have attacked. We had a play drawn up for two and a play drawn up for three had he made both free throws,” Nagy said.

The Jacks shot just 31 percent for the game. 

“We didn’t play with the same pace as we did the last couple games and then we had some shots that didn’t fall,” said George Marshall.

“That’s what you put your whole season towards is trying to get to the tournament and it comes down to one game and you don’t play well one game and it doesn’t happened,”  Cody Larson said. “I wouldn’t have this opportunity if it weren’t for coach Nagy and giving me that chance and I’m honored and humbled to play for this team.”

NDSU’s Alexander finished the game with 25 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. 

“He’s a good player, he made tough shots,” Nagy said. “You put a hand in his face and he’ll knock it down and all you got to do is live with it.”

The Jacks’ season does not end here. Because they were co-champions of the Summit League they received an automatic bid to the National Invitational Tournament. 

“We’ll take a couple days and rest, but lets face it, the NIT’s no joke and we’re going to play a good team and we know it and we’re going to have a chance to put ourselves on the map,” Nagy said.

The Jacks are an eight seed and will take on the Colorado State University Rams, who are the number one seed in that region. CSU got that number one seed because they were the first team out of the NCAA tournament. CSU is 27-6 on the season and fell in the semi-finals of their conference tournament.

The game is at 9 p.m. on Wednesday in Fort Springs, Colo. and can be seen on ESPNU.