SPOKANE, Wash. — When star senior Taylor Braun fouled out in overtime, it didn't mean the end for North Dakota State. It meant opportunity.
Carlin Dupree, a lightly used freshman guard, replaced Braun and promptly pushed the No. 12 seed Bison to an 80-75 upset of No. 5 Oklahoma.
Dupree, who averaged three points, hadn't been in the game. But he hit two free throws with 1:14 left to give North Dakota State the lead. A few seconds later, he drove and hit a contested 6-footer to make it 76-72, and the Bison didn't let go of the lead.
BOX SCORE: North Dakota State, Oklahoma
MARCH MADNESS: NCAA tournament bracket
By seed at least, the Bison matched the upset earlier on the same floor by Harvard, which beat Cincinnati, the East Region's No. 5 seed in the first game of the day. But for North Dakota State, making its second NCAA tournament appearance and in only its sixth season at the Division I level, it was bigger.
When it was over, Bison coach Saul Phillips shook hands with the Sooners, then raced over to the sideline, pointed to the green-and-gold cheering section and celebrated with the fans. The North Dakota State locker room briefly turned into a mosh pit, happily dancing players.
"You guys figure out how big it is," Phillips said. "I know it's very gratifying, and I know that for guys like Lawrence and Carlin and everybody on this team, couldn't have happened to a more fitting group of guys, because they have done what it takes to be exactly where we are right now, year-round."
Oklahoma senior forward Cameron Clark scored 13 of his 25 points in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime. The Sooners, who trailed by eight points at halftime, gradually whittled away.
"They fought, kind of out hustled us on rebounds and things like that, but overall they're a great team," Clark said.
When they took a 64-61 lead on Clark's three-pointer with 57.8 seconds left in regulation, it seemed they'd overcome the Bison's bid. But Braun, who averaged 18 points despite struggling against tough defense, hit two free throws.
With 11.2 seconds left, Lawrence Alexander tied it with a three-pointer. And when three Oklahoma shots missed on the final possession, the Bison survived to get to overtime.
Alexander led all scorers with a career-high 28 points. Braun, who scored only 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting, scored on a scoop shot to give North Dakota State the lead late in overtime. But when he fouled out on the next possession, Clark tied it with free throws — and set the stage for Dupree's late, very unexpected heroics that pushed the Bison to the upset.
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