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Summit League Tournament Final Recap: South Dakota State jumps back into NCAA Tournament

The Jackrabbits pulled away from North Dakota State in the second half to head back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Nagy may have cracked a smile. You had to look really close, but it may have happened.

South Dakota State's coach has led his team back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since Nate Wolters patrolled the floor for the Jackrabbits with a 67-59 win over North Dakota State.

That the Jackrabbits even made it to the final was a bit of a miracle. In a game where every possession mattered in the semifinals against Denver, the Jackrabbits needed to make a miracle comeback to beat the Pioneers by one.

They made sure that the same situation didn't rear its head Tuesday night.

Mike Daum did what he did all season, coming off the bench for 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Jackrabbits. The Summit League's sixth man of the year and freshman of the year showed no fear in his first conference final game while helping to lead the team to the NCAA Tournament.

The game plan looked simple: feed it to Daum as much as possible and watch the Bison react and try to stop him. And North Dakota State couldn't.

That helped open up Deondre Parks on the outside whose huge shots midway through the second half extended the lead from four to eight and effectively ended the North Dakota State fight in this game.

There can be no excuses for the Bison in this one. They had Paul Miller back on the court after a one-game suspension for violating team rules. Maybe it was the one game layoff, but the Bison top scorer this season came off the bench and went just 1-for-8 from the floor for five points.

Carlin Dupree did his best to bring back the Bison, but it just wasn't enough given the lead that South Dakota State was able to build.

The Jackrabbits will now wait to see where they will head in the NCAA Tournament. As of this evening, the consensus of bracketologists had them at a 13-seed, and just behind Chattanooga and UNCW. Perhaps a move into the dangerous 5-12 game isn't out of the question.

The Jackrabbits are certainly a dangerous opponent for any team they may match against.

And if they win in the NCAA Tournament, maybe that Scott Nagy smile won't be so hard to spot.