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Kevin Schnepf, Published March 11 2009

Woody finally hits dream shot: NDSU senior had never hit game-winning basket prior to Tuesday's game

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Ben Woodside has won his share of games in his four years of North Dakota State basketball. But never has the 5-foot-11 senior point guard made a last-second, game-winning shot.

He saved that for the most important win in Bison basketball history – sinking a 17-foot jump shot with four seconds remaining to give NDSU a 66-64 Summit League championship win Monday night over Oakland University.

The shot heard around the Dakotas sends the Bison – in their first year of Division I playoff eligibility – to the NCAA tournament.

“There have been a number of times I have had the ball in my hands at the end and it didn’t go down,” Woodside said. “I kept telling myself I’m going to knock one down sometime.”

Jokingly, Bison head coach Saul Phillips has given Woodside grief about missing game-winning shots.

There was his sophomore year when Woodside, bumped by a Kansas State player, saw his 3-pointer fall short at the buzzer in an

83-81 loss before a packed Bison Sports Arena.

There was his junior year when Woodside missed a long jumper in a 73-71 loss at Oakland. And there was the 69-67 home loss to Indiana Purdue-Indianapolis in which Woodside missed two 3-pointers in the final 35 seconds.

Earlier this year when he scored an amazing 60 points, Woodside missed an off-balanced jumper that would’ve won the game at the end of regulation. The Bison lost to Stephen F. Austin in three overtimes.

Then when NDSU lost

77-76 at Oakland on Jan. 2, Woodside drove the length of the court but missed a high-banking layup in traffic. The ball hung on the rim before falling out. Even Oakland head coach Greg Kampe thought, at the time, that the ball was going to fall in.

“He may have missed that one at Oakland, but I will take this one any day,” Phillips said. “I’ll put Woody in that open court situation anytime.”

And that’s just what Phillips let Woodside do Tuesday night before 3,804 fans in the Sioux Falls Arena.

After Oakland’s Keith Benson tied the score with a slam dunk with 11 seconds remaining, Woodside took the inbounds pass and streaked downcourt.

As he dribbled off the screen, Woodside said he saw the 6-foot-11 Benson leave teammate Lucas Moormann to help on defense.

“But he laid off me just enough so I was able to get the shot off,” Woodside said.

Moormann said by the time he turned around to look, Woodside had already let the shot go. Teammate Brett Winkelman said he knew it was going in as soon as Woodside let it go.

“I had all the confidence in him,” Winkelman said. “But I made sure to run toward the basket to get in rebounding position.”

“So you didn’t have all the confidence in me,” joked Woodside during the postgame news conference.

Woodside’s shot hit nothing but net. And when Johnathon Jones’ 30-foot shot bounced off the rim, Woodside and his Bison teammates were dancing – all the way to an NCAA tournament berth.

“I’ve always dreamt of a last-second shot,” Woodside said. “It just sounds so wonderful … the Big Dance. It’s the best feeling us guys have ever had.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com