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Woodside’s shot brings memories

Sioux Falls, S.D. — The video clip of Ben Woodside’s jumper in 2009 that sent North Dakota State to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been frequently seen this weekend at the Sioux Falls Arena. In a promotion for the league, it’s been a staple on the arena video boards during timeouts or game breaks.

It’s starting to stand the test of time, a signature league moment that has also been getting a rerun on ESPN.

“The best call I ever made in my coaching career was no call at all,” said NDSU head coach Saul Phillips. “Don’t call a timeout.”

With the game against Oakland University (Mich.) tied, Woodside took the inbounds pass, raced upcourt before stopping just outside the free-throw line for a floating jumper that went in. After an Oakland 3-point attempt hit the rim and bounced off at the buzzer, the Bison bench erupted toward Woodside.

Two current Bison assistant coaches, Freddy Coleman and Josh Vaughan, were the first to reach him. What happened depends on who you ask, but the general consensus is Coleman, a standout high school football player, tackled Woodside. Not so, he said.

“Woody to this day thinks I tackled him,” Coleman said, before NDSU practiced on Sunday at the University of Sioux Falls in preparation for tonight’s tournament semifinals. “I grabbed him, but I got tackled from behind and I just kind of took him down. Saul said he would have had my neck if Woody got hurt.”

It makes for a good banquet speech story. Jokingly, Phillips said Coleman should have been flagged 15 yards for clipping and was intentionally trying to hurt Woodside to get more minutes in the NCAA first round game.

Vaughan was on the bench when he went racing after Woodside. He said he was about to be one of the first players to reach Woodside until Coleman knocked him to the ground.

The fact NDSU is on a push to duplicate the 2009 feat has made for some good banter over the course of the season. Which team is better? Coleman said the current team is better defensively and is more athletic – something that showed up in the first-round NCAA loss to Kansas at the Metrodome.

When the Bison needed a stop against the Jayhawks, they couldn’t get it.

“We had to almost outscore them to win that game,” Coleman said. “This team doesn’t have to play its best offensive game to win. It’s definitely a different team, but the ‘09 team could fill it up.”

Wichita State will go                into Big Dance 34-0

ST. LOUIS — For Wichita State fans who were chanting “undefeated” in the last minute of Sunday’s Missouri Valley Conference Tournament finals, it was another step into the NCAA Division I record books.

For Tekele Cotton, the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player, it was simply a day where the No. 2 Shockers checked off another box on their to-do list.

“The next one’s the NCAA Tournament,” said the junior guard after Wichita State completed an 83-69 defeat of Indiana State.

Point guard Fred VanVleet tallied a game-high 22 points and dished out five assists, while Cotton added 20 points.

“We’re familiar with the building, the surroundings, the city,” coach Gregg Marsall swaidsd said. “There won’t be an ooh-and-ah factor when you go into a new place for the first time. Hopefully, we can win a couple of games here and move on to the next stop.”

If the Shockers shoot the ball then like they did this weekend, they might return to the Final Four in April. They canned better than 48 percent of their field-goal attempts in their three MVC games, including 44.4 percent of their 3-pointers, and won by an average margin of 20.3 points.

Cotton was scalding hot from the arc, converting 10 of 15 during the MVC tourney and averaging 14.7 points per game. Known as an athlete who can defend but wasn’t a great shooter, Cotton is forcing opponents to revise the page on his scouting report.

“I want people to guard me, not sag off me,” he said. “If they guard me and don’t sag off me, I’m a harder person to guard.”

Cotton’s 3-pointer from the left corner gave Wichita State its first double-figure lead at 21-11 with 10:39 left in the first half. He drilled another 3 from the left corner at the 12:31 mark of the second half to restore a 10-point lead at 53-43.

That came off one of just nine Sycamores turnovers. The Shockers made the most of their opponents’ mistakes, scoring 21 points.

“They’re probably the best in the country at that,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said of Wichita State’s ability to capitalize on turnovers. “When you have the guards they do and big men that run like sprinters ... early runs like a 100-meter dash man. And they get 3-point plays off those because they’re so strong.”

Guard Manny Arop and center Justin Gant each scored 18 points for the Sycamores (23-10), whose at-large resume probably isn’t stout enough to land an NCAA at-large bid.

Indiana State drew within 55-50 with 10:20 remaining when point guard Jake Odum sank two foul shots. But Odum picked up his fourth foul 12 seconds later and sat out for nearly 2 1/2 minutes.

By the time he returned, the Sycamores trailed 62-50 and were swimming upstream for the day’s remainder.

“Basketball is a game of runs. Everyone knows that,” Lansing said. “They’re as good as anyone of making a 13-0 run, like they did today.”

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.