SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Different formula, same result. And North Dakota State's men's basketball team owes no apologies for either.
One night after nearly blowing a 22-point lead before hanging on to beat Kansas City in the quarterfinals, the Bison were the team rallying Monday night in the semifinals of the Summit League tournament against South Dakota.
The Bison won a meat-grinder 79-75 at the Pentagon, outscoring the Coyotes 22-9 in the final 6:50, to advance to the championship game for the third straight season.
Third-seeded NDSU (15-11) will face No. 4 seed Oral Roberts (14-10) in the championship game at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
The winner earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
South Dakota led 66-57 with just over seven minutes remaining. Jarius Cook made a three-pointer for the Bison, and then Rocky Kreuser (10) and Sam Griesel (9) combined to score the final 19 points of the game for NDSU.
"Patience and poise have been our key words all season," Griesel said. "We were just able to execute down the stretch."
Flanked at the postgame interview podium by Griesel and Kreuser, Bison head coach Dave Richman pointed to the leadership of his most experienced players.
"Really thrilled with the leadership of this group. I tell everybody who is listening right now what I just told these guys in the locker room: We have simply jumped on the back of three young men who exemplify everything that I want this program to be about," Richman said. "This is their program. It reflects the leadership of the two young men surrounding me right now and Tyree Eady."
NDSU is looking for its fifth league tournament title in eight years and its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. The Bison won last year's Summit title, only to have the NCAA Tournament cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kreuser led the Bison with 21 points and nine rebounds. Griesel had 16 points despite 5 of 15 shooting. Eady added 14 points.
Kreuser, an all-Summit League first team pick, was quiet for much of the game but came alive in the second half, sparked by a couple of dunks when he cut along the baseline.
"I don't know if it's we decided to go to him, it's just him understanding the moment and the urgency of each moment," Richman said. "Rocky is the No. 1 guy on everybody's scouting report we're playing against so things aren't just going to come easy. They did some things with their defense to neutralize some of the things we like to do. Give them credit."
Stanley Umude led USD with 23 points. Xavier Fuller had 19 while Tasos Kamateros and Kruz Perrott-Hunt had 14 apiece.
The No. 2 seed Coyotes finished 14-11.
NDSU trailed by as many as 10 points early in the second half after trailing 40-32 at halftime. An Umude 3-point basket with 7:12 left game the Coyotes a nine-point lead at 66-57 and it looked like the Bison's chances of rallying were slipping away.
But Cook answered with a 3-pointer of his own on NDSU's next possession to cut the Bison's deficit to six. Kreuser went baseline, dunked and was fouled. He made the free throw to pull NDSU within 66-63 with 6:10 remaining.
Two minutes later, Griesel's step-back jumper pulled the Bison within 68-67 and after Perrott-Hunt missed a long 3-pointer, Griesel's driving layup gave NDSU the lead at 69-68 with 4:01 left. The Bison wouldn't trail again.
USD was down one point at 75-74 with 1:31 left after a Fuller 3-pointer, but Kreuser and Griesel made two free throws each down the stretch to allow NDSU to escape.
"Sam was big down the stretch, Rocky was very consistent throughout most of the second half, but Tyree ... when our backs were against the wall and we were down eight, he made a bunch of big-time winning plays and willed us back into that game," Richman said.
USD took a 40-32 lead at halftime while shooting 63% from the field. Kamateros was 5 of 7 from the floor in the half while Fuller was 5 of 6 and had 10.
NDSU finished the half shooting just 11 of 30 (37%). Eady and Dezmond McKinney each had seven points in the first half. The Bison ended the half on a 1 of 6 shooting streak.
"The first half we were just playing soft," Griesel said. "In the second half we really focused on getting downhill, getting to the free throw line and once we got in the paint just being patient and poised."
The Coyotes outscored the Bison 14-6 over the last 4:48 of the first half. With the score tied 26-26 a Damani Hayes free throw, followed by two free throws from Umude gave the Coyotes a 29-26 lead. Fuller got an offensive rebound and scored a layup for a 31-26 USD advantage.
It was 33-30 after two free throws from Kreuser, but the Coyotes finished the first half on a 7-2 run. Fuller drove and scored to make it 35-30 and an offensive foul on Kreuser led to a 3-pointer by Kamateros for a 38-30 USD lead.
"For the first game and a half, shooting the ball wasn't my strong suit I guess, but my coach and teammates have all the confidence in the world in me," Griesel said. "They tell me to keep shooting, keep being aggressive, getting downhill. In the second half I got comfortable and they fell."
NDSU (15-11): Cook 2-9 0-0 5, Harden-Hayes 3-4 1-2 7, Eady 5-13 3-6 14, Kreuser 5-7 10-11 20, Griesel 5-15 6-8 16, McKinney 2-5 3-3 7, Skunberg 0-0 0-0 0, Wilson 1-2 0-0 2, Nelson 3-4 1-1 8. Totals 26-59 24-31 79.
USD (14-11): Umude 5-15 11-16 23, Archambault 2-5 0-0 4, Fuller 9-15 0-0 19, Kamateros 6-8 1-2 14, Perrott-Hunt 4-5 2-2 14, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Koster 0-0 0-0 0, Hayes 0-0 1-2 1, Heiman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-48 15-22 75.
Half: USD 40, NDSU 32. 3-point goals: NDSU 3-14 (Cook 1-4, Eady 1-4, Kreuser 0-1, Griesel 0-2, McKinney 0-2, Nelson 1-1), USD 8-18 (Umude 2-4, Archambault 0-3, Fuller 1-4, Kamateros 1-2, Perrott-Hunt 4-5). Total fouls: NDSU 19, USD 24. Fouled out: Kamateros, Hayes. Rebounds: NDSU 35 (Kreuser 9), USD 26 (Umude 9). Assists: NDSU 7 (Eady 3, Griesel 3), USD 14 (Umude 5). Turnovers: NDSU 12 (Harden-Hayes 3, Griesel 3), USD 14 (Umude 5).