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Boever earns tourney MVP as SDSU wins Summit League title

Luke Hagen/Daily Republic South Dakota State's Maria Boever cuts down the net following the Jackrabbit's Summit League championship game victory Tuesday in Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Maria Boever's grandpa picked the perfect time to watch his granddaughter play collegiate basketball for the first time.

In Monday's blow-out win over Western Illinois, he watched the Jackrabbits' senior leader put up a career-high 28 points.

In Tuesday's Summit League Conference tournament championship game, he watched her score 18 more in an upset win over Oral Roberts University to be named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

"It was awesome having him here," Boever said. "It meant a lot to go out and play in front of him and for him to be able to see me play."

Boever, a Worthington native, helped the third-seeded Jackrabbits beat the top-seeded Golden Eagles in overtime, 79-75, Tuesday at Sioux Falls Arena to punch SDSU's second-ever trip to the NCAA tournament.

"We did come in as the underdog, and we knew we would have to come in and fight," she said. "I think we're so happy because we did fight so hard. We just didn't give up, and I think that's why we're so excited this year."

After the Jacks gave up what was once a 10-point lead early in the second half, Boever had a four-minute stretch where she shined.

Leading 57-56, the Jacks went inside to the 6-foot-1 forward.

She scored every point during SDSU's 6-0 run and blocked a Golden Eagles attempt as the shot-clock expired, giving the Jacks a 65-56 lead with about five minutes to play.

That lead dissipated slowly by the end of regulation on turnovers and a press defense from ORU.

After the Golden Eagles tied the game with 48 seconds left, the Jacks' Kristin Rotert missed a 3-point attempt with 24 seconds remaining. That gave ORU one last shot attempt for the win, and the 3-pointer bounced off the back iron, sending the game to overtime.

Rotert was responsible for four turnovers late in regulation, but eventually redeemed herself in overtime hitting the Jacks' only field goal and she also knocked down the team's late free throw to seal the win.

"Personally, for me, I know I struggled quite a bit in the last four or five minutes," Rotert said. "That's no secret. I can't hide it.

"I knew that I had to keep playing, because there's nothing you can do. If I get an open shot, I had to shoot it with confidence."

In overtime, she struggled early.

She missed two 3-point attempts, but thanks to SDSU's defense, neither team scored in the first two-plus minutes of the extra period.

Rotert finished with a team-high 21 points and, along with Boever and Ketty Cornemann, was named to the all-tournament team.

"She not only hit a free throw late, but she had a couple of plays where she penetrated to the basket in overtime and had one lay in and found someone else for an open look," SDSU coach Aaron Johnston said. "She made the plays when she had to. I just tried to get her to calm her down."

Boever had only six of her 18 points in the first half.

Her first basket was inside the paint at 9:06 and her second field goal was a reverse layup with 3:23 left in the first half to give SDSU a 33-29 lead.

Oral Roberts pulled within two on a 3-pointer with 3:36 to go in the first half, but behind a 3-pointer from Rotert and another by Macie Michelson as the half buzzer sounded, the Jacks pulled ahead 44-37.

The NCAA tournament appearance is the second in two years for the Jacks, who are 6-0 in conference tournament play.

"We want to make our fans happy, but I think we did this for us," Boever said. "We've fought this whole year, we've had ups and downs this whole year and as a team we wanted to come out and get a win."

For the third straight game, the Jacks' defense held their opponent to under 40 percent from the field.

ORU hit 39 percent of its field goals, including 11-of-25 from behind the arc.

The Jacks hit 43 percent from the field and tied the tournament record with 13 three-point shots made.