- Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - The guys in green raced off the court and into the locker room where they danced and sang, compared whose shot was most likely to end up featured on “One Shining Moment,” and checked Twitter to see who was giving them a shoutout.

North Dakota State pulled off yet another 12 seed stunner and enjoyed every moment of it.

“I just want to keep coaching this team,” NDSU coach Saul Phillips said. “I don’t want to have to say goodbye to this locker room.”

Lawrence Alexander’s 3-pointer with 11 seconds left forced overtime and Carlin Dupree came off the bench to score four unlikely points in the final 75 seconds of the extra session, and the Bison knocked off No. 5 seed Oklahoma 80-75 Thursday night.

NDSU (26-6) picked up its first NCAA tournament win by rallying in the final minute and outlasting the Sooners in overtime. Alexander finished with a career-high 28 points, but it’ll be his falling-down, fist-pumping celebration after the tying 3-pointer that will be replayed in Fargo for years.

But that was just the first act. Dupree came on in the closing seconds of overtime after Taylor Braun fouled out, hit two free throws and scored on a difficult baseline leaner with 41 seconds left that put the Bison up by four and ignited the celebration.

Phillips ran over to the fans in green and yellow, threw his arms in the air and screamed at the top of his lungs. No one could hear the excitable North Dakota State coach with all the noise.

The Bison quickly realized they grabbed the nation’s attention.

“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.”

While players were monitoring Twitter to see who had been watching, the school’s own athletic department account probably had the best line.

“We’ll gladly be your Cinderella, America.”

Except this Cinderella doesn’t fit the traditional mold. These Bison are proven. They won at Notre Dame in the regular season. This is part of a progressive rise under Phillips since the Bison made their first tourney trip in 2009.

They have a swagger not typically seen from smaller programs, because the Bison don’t see themselves that way.

Take Alexander. After releasing possibly the biggest shot of his career - the tying 3 that forced overtime - he hollered “buckets,” so confident the shot would rattle through the net.

“That’s a lot of confidence there big fella,” Phillips said.

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