One year ago tomorrow, the North Dakota State Bison were on the court at the Summit League Tournament celebrating a birth to the NCAA Tournament, looking forward to finding out who they would be playing on selection Sunday. That like much of life over the last year was disrupted by Covid. So the Bison were left with a mission that for the most part had reached its summit yet was paused.
The Bison entered Saturday night’s showdown with 2 seed South Dakota trying to make that climb for the 3rd straight year. The Coyotes seemed to have different plans, however. USD seemed to be in stride the entire first half as they finished with an 8 point lead at the break. Tasos Kamateros led the charge with 12 points. The Bison came out with energy in the second half and one began to question whether Coyotes could hold off a veteran team that been through these pressure-filled battles many times before. Other thoughts such as is this finally the game where AJ Plitzuweit’s absence finally catches up with the Yote. Yet the Yotes found an answer as players like Xavier Fuller and Kruz Perrot-Hunt hit big shots. Then the Bison players who had been there before started showing up. Whether it be Tyree Eady, Sam Griesel, or Rocky Kreuser, the Bison vets kept making big plays. The Bison finally took the lead with 4:01 remaining and while the Yotes had chances they would never take the lead back. NDSU held on to win by 4.
Kreuser led the Bison with 20 points and Griesel added 16. USD was paced by Stanley Umude’s 23 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Xavier Fuller added 19 for the Coyotes.
NDSU moves on to face Oral Roberts in tomorrow’s championship game. The Bison are looking for their third straight NCAA tournament birth, while the Golden Eagles are looking for their first in 13 years.