Arrow-right Camera

Upset city

12 seeds Harvard, North Dakota State win at Arena Spokane subregional at epicenter of NCAA tourney theatrics

The 12th seeds took over the Arena on Thursday.

North Dakota State University captured its first NCAA tournament victory in impressive fashion, knocking off the fifth-seeded Oklahoma Sooners 80-75 in overtime.

Earlier, 12th-seeded Harvard topped Cincinnati 61-57.

A pair of surges – the first coming at the end of the first half, the second at the end of overtime – provided the difference for the Bison of Fargo.

Now, the Bison will see how much more trail they can blaze.

NDSU (26-6) takes on San Diego State (30-4) on Saturday for a trip to the Sweet 16 next week.

The Bison took control with an 11-0 run the final 3:08 of the first half for a 37-29 lead at halftime.

NDSU didn’t relinquish the lead until the Sooners’ Isaiah Cousins made two free throws to put OU up 62-61 with 1:30 to go in regulation.

OU (23-10) stretched the lead to 65-61 with 39 seconds remaining.

Seven seconds later, Taylor Braun made both sides of a one-and-one to pull NDSU within 65-63.

Forced to foul, the Bison sent Cousins back to the foul line for a double bonus. He made the first but missed the second for a 66-63 lead.

Then came the shot of the game by point guard Lawrence Alexander on a play designed to go to Braun on a dribble-drive option. The lane wasn’t there so Braun passed to Alexander, who buried the tying 3-pointer with 11 seconds to go.

“It was supposed to be a quick (isolation), but coming out of the (timeout) huddle I told (Braun) ‘if you don’t have anything I’ll be right there in the right wing,’ “ Alexander said. “And he just gave me the bounce pass and I took the shot.”

“What did you say when it was in the air?” quipped Braun.

“Buckets,” Alexander said.

Alexander scored a career high 28 points, and he never left the floor once in 45 game minutes. He also had eight rebounds and four assists.

Oklahoma advanced the ball to midcourt and took a timeout with nine seconds showing. They had three shots to win, but none fell before the horn sounded.

The first three minutes of overtime were a draw, and with 1:42 to go Braun made a driving basket deep in the shot clock as he tumbled out of bounds to put the Bison ahead 72-70.

That was the first basket in an 8-0 spurt that gave NDSU an 80-72 lead with 20 seconds to go.

“It wasn’t the prettiest offensively tonight but it was enough to get it done,” NDSU coach Saul Phillips said. “And we played against the second-place team from the Big 12, so I guess I didn’t expect a masterpiece.”

Cameron Clark led OU with 25 points.

“Our guys fought like crazy the last 25 minutes of regulation to get back and finally get into a position to win,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “They hit a big shot to get it into overtime. But tough, tough one to lose.”