MADISON, S.D. - Dakota State men's basketball team faced a nationally-ranked team from the NAIA Division II 'Top 25' for the eighth time this season Saturday evening at DSU Fieldhouse in the 2012 State Farm Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Men's Basketball semifinals. The Trojans will be making their first trip to the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament for the first time since 1992 with an 82-73 upset over No. 25 Valley City State.
Dakota State raised their overall record to 17-12, most wins since 1992 - the year when the Trojans advanced to the NAIA 'Final Four'. Valley City State lost their fourth straight game and dropped their overall record to 20-10.
DSU opened the game with a 14-5 lead with thirteen minutes and 36 seconds left in the first-half. The Trojans extended their lead into double digits at 27-15 with less than eight minutes before halftime.
Dakota State maintained a 12-point halftime advantage at 38-26.
The Trojans had their largest lead of the game at 58-42 with 12:12 remaining in the game.
Valley City State could get no closer than four points (77-73) with just a minute less in the game.
The Trojans closed the game with a 5-0 run to seal the victory and a spot in the national tournament.
Donald Stewart led the Trojans with 24 points on his 9-for-10 shooting from the field and 5-for-7 from the free-throw line. He dished out four assists and recorded three steals. Jesse Bean added 19 points. Keith Biggers had a double-double of 17 points and 10 pulled down 10 rebounds. Spencer Adams had 12 points and five assists. Cameron Krump recorded seven rebounds.
Sekani Milligen scored 23 points for Valley City State. He was 7-for-12 from the field, including 6-for-8 from the 3-point line. Aaron Duske added 16 points. AJ McDonald recorded 11 points off the bench. Sylvester Walker grabbed seven rebounds.
Dakota State shot 53.1 percent (26-for-49) from the field compared to the Vikings' 43.4 percent (23-for-53). VCSU drained 12 3-pointers in the game in 24 attempts (50 percent), while DSU was 3-for-9 (33 percent).
The Trojans were 27-for-42 from the free-throw line (64.3 percent). VCSU made 15 free-throws in 20 attempts.
Dakota State outrebounded the Vikings 35-28.
DSU outscored Valley City State 40-18 inside the paint.
Dakota State will play in the State Farm A.I.I. Men's Basketball Championship game Sunday evening at DSU Fieldhouse. The Trojans face the winner of No. 4 seed Dickinson State/No. 1 seed Jamestown at 6 p.m. Valley City State will see if they will continue their season after the final poll comes out on Feb. 29 to determine the at-large bids.
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director