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Sioux Falls tabbed to host NAIA men’s basketball tournament

Jacks try for first win over Oral Roberts in today's title game

SIOUX FALLS -- Oral Roberts University is the only team in the Summit League South Dakota State University hasn't beaten this year.

With a trip to the NCAA tournament on the line, the two teams meet again in the conference tournament championship at 3 p.m. today at Sioux Falls Arena.

Revenge isn't a factor, though, according to Jackrabbits' junior guard Kristin Rotert.

"I don't think it's much of an issue," said Rotert, a McCook Central graduate. "Our main goal is to win the championship and get back to the NCAA tournament. They're the next team in our way right now."

Oral Roberts defeated the Jackrabbits twice this year.

The first meeting was Jan. 4 when the Golden Eagles won, 81-72, at Frost Arena in Brookings. ORU was the first-ever Summit League team to beat SDSU at home since the Jackrabbits joined the 10-team conference in 2007.

The Golden Eagles beat SDSU again Jan. 30, 86-75.

ORU ended the regular season with a 15-3 conference record, while the Jackrabbits finished 14-4.

That gave the Golden Eagles the top seed going into the Summit League conference tournament.

"The first couple times we played them, we became a little bit rattled," SDSU coach Aaron Johnston said. "We had some turnovers, and that led to some runs for them.

"We're going to have to keep our composure (today) much better than we have earlier."

ORU and third-seeded SDSU have taken different paths to the championship game.

ORU beat Southern Utah 97-81 in the first round and beat UMKC Monday afternoon 77-71.

SDSU has blown out both of its opponents in the past two days.

With a stingy defense and a nearly unstoppable second-half offense, the Jackrabbits beat IPFW, 93-52, in the first round Sunday. Monday, SDSU routed Western Illinois, 67-39.

"The team that's playing well probably isn't going to look tired, and the team that's not playing well is probably going to look tired, and that could be either one of us," Johnston said. "The confidence, the energy and the emotion -- all of the things that go into a tournament championship game -- one team is going to have those things and it's going to be the result of them playing well."

SDSU is led by Maria Boever, who averages 13.7 points per game, and Rotert, who averages 12.1 points per game.

Oral Robert's freshman guard Kevi Luper averages 25.1 points per game.