SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota State battled on Monday in The Summit League Championship semifinals, but the Jackrabbits run for a third straight tournament title came to an end with a 64-60 loss to No. 2 seed Fort Wayne.
“Congratulations to Fort Wayne, they earned it, they played well, they made the plays when they needed to. Even when we made the run in the second half, they didn’t cave, and they got tough kids, they’re well-coached, so they have a lot to be proud of,” head coach Scott Nagy said. “We just haven’t turned the ball over a lot this year, but tonight we did and that’s really what hurt us, just too many turnovers.”
The Jackrabbits, who fall to 19-12 on the season, committed 18 turnovers in the game that the Mastodons turned into 22 points, 10 more points than the Jacks got off of 11 IPFW turnovers.
The No. 2 seeded Mastodons, who improve to 24-9 and advance to the tournament semifinals on Tuesday against top seed North Dakota State, outscored the Jackrabbits 29-11 in bench points, thanks largely to Mo Evans, who led IPFW with 18 points on 6 of 7 shooting from 3-point range.
Brayden Carlson led the Jacks with 19 points, with Chad White adding 10 and a season-high seven rebounds. Jordan Dykstra and Cody Larson both finished with nine points, with Larson adding eight rebounds.
Pierre Bland scored 12 and Steve Forbes 10 points to go with his eight rebounds to tie with Larson for game-high honors.
Zach Horstman made his first-career start in the game and scored the first points, as the Jacks scored won the tip and scored 10 seconds into the contest.
IPFW answered with a 3-pointer on its first possession, the first of three early lead changes before broke the game open with a 16-5 run that put the Mastodons up by 10 at 25-15 with six and a half minutes left in the first half.
SDSU would cut that lead to as few as five points, but trailed 30-24 at halftime.
The Jacks opened the second half on a 9-0 run to take its largest lead of the game at 33-30 early in the second half, but the ‘Dons responded with a 10-3 run to retake the lead and go up by four at 40-36 with 14:35 left on the clock.
Backed by a Sioux Falls era tournament record 6,769 fans, the Jackrabbits made one more push, and took a 43-42 lead on a pair of Carlson free throws with 12:20 left, but the Mastodons answered with an 8-0 run and never trailed again.
The Jackrabbits clawed back and kept it a one-possession game for most of the remaining minutes, but could never close the gap.
The loss dashed the Jackrabbits NCAA Tournament hopes, but they expect the season to continue in another postseason tournament. Stay with GoJacks.com for updates.
NOTES: The Jackrabbits lead the all-time series with Fort Wayne 12-10, with an even 2-2 record in Summit League Tournament play ... SDSU falls to 9-4 all-time in The Summit League Championships, with a 2-3 mark in the tournament semifinals ... the loss snaps SDSU’s seven game tournament winning streak ... SDSU lost for just the fourth time this season when winning the rebounding battle, compared with 19 wins, and for just the second time when holding its opponent to fewer than 70 points ... Horstman made his first-career start in the game and finished with two points and a rebound in 12 minutes ... Carlson moved from 28th on the all-time scoring list at SDSU to 26th with 1,125 career points
Courtesy; South Dakota State University