Oral Roberts showed why it was the undefeated Summit League men's basketball regular-season champions Monday night.
St. Thomas showed why it is far ahead of schedule in its transition to Division I.
The Golden Eagles topped the Tommies 70-65 in the semifinals of the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls. But it came down to the final minutes as St. Thomas was resilient down the stretch.
The Golden Eagles looked to be pulling away late in the second half, taking a 60-50 lead with 4 minutes, 14 seconds left, but the Tommies rallied with a 7-0 run to get within three points with 1:44 remaining.
The crowd at the Denny Sanford Premier Center had swelled with fans coming in for the second semifinal matchup between North Dakota State and South Dakota State. Sensing an upset, fans were raucous as the Tommies got within one possession.
But Oral Roberts (29-4) handled the moment with ease, answering with a 5-0 run to put the game out of reach.
St. Thomas (19-14) struggled from the floor, shooting 33% overall and 29% from three-point range. Andrew Rohde finished tied for the game high with 23 points but shot 8-for-22, Brooks Allen had 17 points and hit five threes while Parker Bjorklund added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Summit League Player of the Year Max Abmas scored 23 points for Oral Roberts.
It capped a strong campaign for St. Thomas in its second season of Division I since moving up from Division III. The Tommies finished 9-9 in Summit League play, were the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament and topped No. 4 seed Western Illinois in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Even if the Tommies had won the tournament championship, they are not able to participate in the NCAA tournament until 2025-26 as part of their move to Division I.