North Dakota State coach Saul Phillips figured there was no need for a timeout in the final seconds. The ball was already right where he wanted it: in Ben Woodside's hands.
Woodside made a 17-foot jumper from the top of the key with 3 seconds left to give the top-seeded Bison a 66-64 victory Tuesday night against Oakland and send them to the NCAA tournament in their first season in Division I.
"I've been working on my offense for a while," Phillips said. "It's called 'get the ball to Woodside and get out of the way.' It's been effective."
NDSU (26-6), which won the regular-season title in its first season as a Summit League member, trailed through much of the game -- by 14 in the first half -- and needed a rally in the final five minutes to win.
Woodside, the Summit League player of the year, finished with 17 points. He averaged 23 on the year, including a 60-point game against Stephen F. Austin in triple overtime.
Woodside is one of five seniors who redshirted earlier in their careers as the Bison started to transition from Division II to I. They were targeting this season, hoping to take one good shot at an NCAA tournament bid.
Their patience paid off.
Michael Tveidt had 21 points for North Dakota State and was 4-for-4 on 3-point shots. His last 3 came with 1:26 left, put NDSU ahead 64-62 and capped an eight-point run.
Oakland's Keith Benson responded with a dunk for a 64-all tie with 12 seconds to play. Rather than call time out, NDSU charged down court and gave Woodside the ball.
"We talked about it all year where if it's a close game and it comes down to the wire and we need a shot to go up or to tie we've talked about not calling a time out but going with the flow," Woodside said. "That way the defense can't set up and that gives us the opportunity to get into transition."
"[Lucas] Moormann set a great screen and gave me just enough time, and Benson was sagging a little and I knocked it down."
A long 3-point try by Oakland's Johnathon Jones at the final horn bounced out.
"When it left my hand it looked good," Jones said. "But it wasn't."
Oakland (22-12) surged ahead in the first half on 63 percent shooting. The Golden Grizzlies cooled to 32 percent in the second half.
"I thought we played 36 outstanding minutes and four minutes down the stretch we played like a very young team," said Oakland coach Greg Kampe, whose teams starts a freshman, two sophomores, a junior and a senior.
Erik Kangas and Will Hudson each had 16 points for No. 3 seed Oakland. Jones added 15 and Benson had 14 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
"To go from surrendering 62 percent shooting in the first half to 32 percent in the second half -- that's the difference in the game right there," Phillips said.
"This group has grown. The offensive end has always come relatively easy for them. This defensive end has been going to the dentist every day for five years. We finally got it taken care of and it couldn't have happened at a better time."
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