In an empty Sanford Pentagon, that at times felt like a high school basketball game with the lack of fans and limited noise coming from the respective team benches, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (SDSU) got out to a fast start against North Dakota State University (NDSU).
Led by Baylor Schierman, SDSU took off early despite Doug Wilson not suiting up with an apparent injury. The Jacks received quality minutes from Luke Appel in the first half helping the team take a 33-26 lead into half. The Bison had a late run at half to bring the game within striking distance, capitalizing on SDSU’s struggles from the three point line. Following the game against Bradley where the Jacks shot 65% from three, SDSU opened the game at 18.8%. The key to the early success for the Jacks came from their high energy early. The bench was always making noise and it was clear they came ready to play and make a statement.
However, NDSU was not going to let the Jacks run away with it and came out with energy in the second half. The Jacks got into foul trouble with 3 players (Noah Friedel, Matt Dentlinger, and David Wingett) earning 3 fouls before time reached the halfway point of the second half. Throughout the remainder of the game, the Jacks would try and run away with the game but the Bison wouldn’t let them pull away for good.
The Jackrabbit defense was strong in the second half. When the Jacks defense is at its best they can and will control any Summit League game. This defensive effort constantly caused the Bison problems and resulted in turnovers that led to some of SDSU’s best offensive possessions. Luke Appel might have been one of the most important players in this game with Matt Dentlinger getting into foul trouble and Doug Wilson out with an injury he was needed. His 11 points and constant presence on the Bison’s big men was huge throughout the game. The Jacks had a solid night from many players offensively and had four guys in double figures including Noah with 17 Alex with 16 Luke with 11 and Baylor with 14 and 11 rebounds to post his 3rd straight double double.
Poor performance at the free throw line was what stopped SDSU from clenching this game sooner. Down the stretch the Jacks missed multiple free throws that could have clinched the game for good but allowed for the Bison to stay in the game. The Jacks will need to improve their performance at the charity stripe as the season continues on. Overall, one positive take away from the game is that the Jackrabbits were able to win the same without relying on Doug Wilson. Last season that was something they struggled to do.
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Notes from postgame interview with Head Coach Eric Henderson
- Doug Wilson is day to day with soreness
- Tray Buchanan has opted out of the remainder of the season and will re-evaluate his decision in the spring