SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KWSN)– South Dakota State overcame a slow start to run away with a well-balanced 71-50 win over Western Illinois in The Summit League Championship quarterfinals on Sunday in front of 6,647 fans at the Sioux Falls Arena.
“I just cannot believe how tight we were in the first half, and I don’t like to watch that, there’s no reason for us to be tight, these kids should be loose, but I think Western does that to you a little bit with their pace of play, they’re very good defensively, they’re physical,” head coach Scott Nagy said. “We loosed up in the second half, mostly because we guarded, we had a lot of nice plays, some steals and stuff that kind of got us going, we shot the ball way better in the second half, but our defense was good and were it needed to be, and that’s what won it for us.”
The No. 3 seeded Jackrabbits improve to 19-11 with the win and advance to play No. 2 seed Fort Wayne in The Summit League Championship semifinals on Monday at 8:30 p.m., while the Fighting Leathernecks season comes to an end with a 10-20 record.
SDSU started slow, and fell in to an 11-5 hole just over five minutes into the contest, but rallied to force the first of three first half ties at 13-all on a Chad White 3-pointer with 10 minutes, 33 seconds left in the opening half.
SDSU regained the lead on a pair of Marcus Heemstra free throws with just over five minutes left in the half and a Brayden Carlson layup pushed the lead to three a minute later at 20-17. The teams traded buckets over the final three minutes of the half before SDSU took a 26-23 lead into halftime.
The Jacks came out hot in the second half, and used runs of 15-5 and 10-1 to push the lead to 51-31 with just over 11 minutes left to play.
That lead would reach as many as 25 at 64-39 before the Jackrabbits rested their starters for the quick turnaround.
Carlson led four Jackrabbits in double figures with 13 points, adding three assists and three steals. Jordan Dykstra added 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the season. Both White and Heemstra finished with 10 points.
Western’s Garret Covington led all players with 14 points. Jabari Sandifer added 13 and Michael Ochereobia 10 points in the loss.
Courtesy: South Dakota State University