South Dakota State celebrated Senior Night on Saturday in the 41st Annual Pork Classic, and everyone left full and happy after the Jackrabbits closed out the home schedule with a 64-55 win over Western Illinois in front of a sellout crowd of 6,103 at Frost Arena.
The Jackrabbits, who improve to 21-7 overall and take a half game lead in The Summit League standings with a 13-3 record, sent seniors Tony Fiegen and Nate Wolters out in style.
"Senior day is always hard for me, really hard for me, because it means that I have to let go of some kids that we've asked a lot of, have been hard on and pushed, but that we love," head coach Scott Nagy said. "These two guys, Nate and Tony, have impacted my life, and it isn't just about basketball, it's just not. They're great young men. Their parents did a great job raising them and they impacted our whole team. They helped lift our program to a different level."
The win didn't come easy for the Jacks, despite an early 19-3 run that put them up 19-7 with 6 minutes, 54 seconds to play in the first half. The Fighting Leathernecks halved that margin before halftime, when SDSU took a 25-19 lead into the locker room.
"As you would expect, it was a grind. They never give you anything easy. They're good," Nagy said. "We weren't very good defensively in the second half, we were in the first half. We shot 29 percent and were up six at half, I felt pretty good. I knew we would loosen up offensively in the second half, I just didn't realize that we'd be as bad defensively in the second half, but we made enough plays offensively to win the game."
Western kept that momentum at the start of the second half and used a 14-5 run to take a 33-30 lead with 15:39 left in the game, but the Jacks responded with a 17-6 run to push the lead back to 47-39 with 7:46 on the clock.
The Leathernecks would get as close as two points at 49-47 with 4:15 left, but the Jacks outscored the visitors 15-8 down the stretch to secure their second straight perfect home record and 30th consecutive home win overall.
Wolters led all players in the win with 28 points and with six assists. Jordan Dykstra finished with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season and second in a row. Brayden Carlson finished with 11 points int eh win.
Ceola Clark III led the Leathernecks with 20 points, while Adam Link added 12 points in the loss, which drops Western to 19-6 overall and to 11-3 in league play.
SDSU takes a break from Summit League action next week, with games at CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday and at Murray State on Saturday, Feb. 13, in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters event, a game that can be seen live on ESPN2.
NOTES: The Jacks improve to 12-3 all-time against Western Illinois, with wins in each of the last nine meetings ... SDSU closes the home schedule with a perfect 13-0 record at home, the fourth undefeated season for the Jacks in Frost Arena, and the second in as many seasons (18-0 in 1984-85, 17-0 in 2002-03 and 14-0 in 2011-12) ... the 6,103 fans represents the third sellout crowd of the season at Frost Arena ... SDSU improves to 7-0 this season when Dykstra records a double-double ... Wolters scored at least 20 points for the 16th time this season and for the 65th game in a row ... also pushed his SDSU points record to 2,220, his assists record to 617 and his free throws made record to 609
MACOMB, Ill. — Ashley Eide became the 32nd member of the Jackrabbit 1,000-Point Club, scoring 12 points to help lead South Dakota State to a 61-52 victory Saturday afternoon at Western Illinois in Summit League women's basketball action.
The league-leading Jackrabbits improved to 20-7 overall and 12-2 in The Summit League. Western Illinois dropped to 11-14 overall, 4-8 in league play.
After the two teams traded baskets in the early going, the Jackrabbits took the lead for good with a 15-0 run over a five-minute span of the first half. Gabrielle Boever started the outburst with a three-pointer that gave SDSU an 8-6 lead and reserve forward Rachel Walters connected on a pair of treys.
WIU pulled to within 24-15 later in the first half, but Walters hit her third three-pointer of the half and Tara Heiser added threefree throws to push the margin to 34-18 at halftime.
The Jackrabbits upped their lead to 20 points early in the second half on an Eide basket. A senior guard from Sioux Falls, Eide made afree throw at the 15:32 mark of the second half for her 1,000th career point.
SDSU maintained a comfortable lead until hitting a scoring drought that lasted more than six minutes with a point and nearly eight minutes without a field goal before Eide stemmed the tide with a traditional three-point play. The Jackrabbits' inability to score allowed Western Illinois to trim the deficit to single digits with a little more than two minutes toplay.
The Jackrabbits made 7-of-8 free throw attempts in the final 91 seconds to seal the victory. Boever was 4-for-4 at the strip down the stretch to finish with a team-high 13 points. Eide was the only other Jackrabbit in double figures with a dozen.
For the game, SDSU shot 18-of-54 from the field, 33 percent, including 5-of-14 from three-point range. The Jackrabbits held a big advantage at the free throw line, making 20-of-29 attempts for 69 percent, while Western Illinois 9-of-13, 75 percent.
The Fighting Leathernecks ended the afternoon 19-of-56 from the field, 41.4 percent, including 5-of-23 from behind the arc. Saule Kontautaite led all players with 16 points. Ashley Luke and Jackie Rieger chipped in with 11 and 10 points respectively.
SDSU held a 46-32 rebounding advantage, led by Leah Dietel's game-high eight boards.
The Jackrabbits close out the home season Thursday night by hosting Omaha. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Frost Arena. The senior class ofDietel, Eide and Katie Lingle will be honored prior to the game.
NOTES: SDSU leads the all-time series, 12-1, which dates back to the 2007-08 season … the Jackrabbits have won the last 12 meetings … the Jackrabbits recorded their 16th 20-win season in program history and seventh in nine seasons at the Division I level … SDSU has held a double-digit rebounding advantage in eight of its 14 Summit League games … the Jackrabbits held a 24-9 edge in bench points, with Walters leading the way with nine … Katie Lingle scored seven points and Tara Heiser added six points — all at the free throw line — off the bench … Eide scored in double figures for the 20th time this season … Boever reached double figures for the fifth time in the last eight games … Eide finished the day with 1,003 career points, tying her with Sarita DeBoer (1,003 points from 2002-05) for 31st place on the Jackrabbit career scoring chart … attendance was 848 at Western Hall