SDSU overcame a slow start with strong bench play to take down Southwest Minnesota State.
SDSU returned home Tuesday night to play at home for the first time in 24 days but it took a while for the home cooking to take effect.
The Jackrabbits fed off a 11-0 run to end the first half to pull away to 92-64 victory over Division II opponent Southwest Minnesota State at Frost Arena.
SMSU proved to be a worthy adversary for most of first half, taking advantage of the Jackrabbits poor on-ball defensive effort. But after being tied 30-30 with just over three minutes left, SDSU rattled off 11 points in a row for a 41-30 halftime lead. That roll continued with the Jacks recording 22 of the first 24 points in the second half and the Jackrabbits were able to cruise from there.
“The start of it was my fault because we were soft. We weren’t playing man-to-man that we are capable of,” head coach Scott Nagy said.
The Mustangs were hurt the most by an eight minute scoring dry spell from the field, starting with 3:49 left in the first half and ending at the 16:33 point in the second half. By then, SMSU found themselves too far behind to make up the ground needed to catch the Jacks.
The toll of eight consecutive road games that the Jacks had over the past three weeks, spanning back to their Nov. 14 trip to Minnesota, showed its wear according to Nagy.
“Emotionally and physically, we’re tired. We’re trying to jam all of these games in here and it was just not an easy game emotionally but our guys did a job of pulling their way back around and getting back in it,” Nagy said.
The lead stretched quickly, with the Jackrabbits leading by a cool 30 points with 12:08 left in the contest. Much of that was accomplished with the help of the bench, which for the second straight contest reached the 40-point plateau. In all, SDSU played 10 players and each one had at least three points.
“We’re not on the road, traveling from hotel room to hotel room. Sleeping in your own bed is the best part about it,” said Jordan Dykstra, who made his first start of the season and says that his foot is feeling better.
Freshman Taévaunn Prince led four double-figure scorers for the Jacks, finishing the game with a career-high 16 points, Nate Wolters had 14 and Tony Fiegen scored 11 points. Zach Monaghan provided a boost for the Jackrabbits, contributing 10 points in 14 minutes of playing time.