SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Just hours after the South Dakota State women punched their ticket to the Big Dance, the Jackrabbit men followed suit with a thrilling come-from-behind overtime win over Western Illinois by the score of 52-50.
The Jacks, who trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, completed the comeback on a pair of Griffan Callahan free throws with 15 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 44. The Fighting Leathernecks got a shot off at the buzzer, but it fell short, and into the hands of Callahan, the Jacks lone senior.
A lead that changed hands 10 times in regulation, changed hands three more times in overtime, before a Callahan three-pointer put the Jacks up for good with 1 minute, 27 seconds remaining.
Neither team scored after that, and Western Illinois' final attempt at a tie missed its mark, sending the Jackrabbits and their fans to the floor to celebrate the team's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth at the Division I level.
The Jackrabbits improve to 27-7 with the win, while Western Illinois' season ends at 18-14.
The Jackrabbits led by as many as three points in the first half, but a 10-for-28 effort from the floor in the half, 35.7 percent, kept them from pulling away.
The Fighting Leathernecks shot 45.8 percent on 11-of-24 shooting, but went 5-for-8 from three-point range, 62.5 percent, which made the difference at halftime, as they went into the locker room with a 28-24 lead.
The second half didn't start much better for the Jacks, as they opened with a 1-for-10 effort from the floor, which opened the door for Western to extend its lead to 12 points at 37-25 with 15:24 left in regulation.
Still trailing by nine points with 7:35 on the clock, the Jacks closed the game on an 11-2 run to tie the game and force overtime, where they eventually prevailed.
Tournament MVP Nate Wolters led the Jackrabbits with 14 points in the win, adding six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Callahan added 10 points and six rebounds, while Chad White finished with nine points, all from long range.
Brayden Carlson led the defense with seven rebounds to go along with his three points and three assists. Jordan Dykstra, who earned all-tournament team honors, finished with six points and six rebounds.
Tommie Tyler led the Leathernecks with a game-high 19 points. Terell Parks scored eight points and finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Jacks now await an opponent in the NCAA Tournament. They find out who and when during the selection show, which airs on CBS on Sunday at 5 p.m. Stay with GoJacks.com for further details.
NOTES: The win sends South Dakota State to the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time, but for the first time a the Division I level ... the Jackrabbits improve to 27-7 with the win, which ties a school record for wins (27-7 in 2003-04, their final year in Division II) ... SDSU improves to 3-0 this season in overtime games and to 4-0 on neutral floors ... SDSU improves to 10-3 all-time against Western Illinois, with wins in each of the last seven meetings ... Saturday's game marked the second postseason meeting between SDSU and WIU, as the two teams met on Feb. 29, 1980 in the D II North Central Regional in Brookings, SDSU won that game 98-86