There was plenty of good and bad in SDSU’s first game of the regular season.
Scott Nagy tweeted at halftime searching for anyone other than guard Nate Wolters to score some points.
He got that wish, it’s just that Wolters kept scoring throughout and the Jacks came out on top in an 82-76 victory over Western Michigan at Frost Arena in which both c
oaches received technical fouls and each team had a player score north of 30 points.
That second-half player Nagy asked for was 6-7 junior Tony Fiegen, who posted a career-high 16 points. Fourteen of them came in the second half.
“He came up huge,” Wolters said, who finished with a double-double with 32 points and tying a career-high with 11 assists. “He had four or five jumpers down the stretch that helped us win.”
Besides Fiegen, the Jacks needed production from lesser-expected or more unproven commodities. Starters Griffan Callahan and Chad White combined to shoot 1-for-11 from the floor and became secondary options on offense. But newcomers like Zach Horstman’s seven points in just nine minutes and sophomore Brayden Carlson’s three three-pointers picked up some slack.
Wolters’ line was equally marked by Western Michigan sophomore Matt Stainbrook, a 6-9, 290-pound center who missed only two shots from the floor in a 32-point effort. His previous career-high was 18. To that end, he curiously led the Broncos with two steals.
But WMU got little else from its bench, tallying more fouls (five) than points (four). Horstman bested that production himself off the bench, and sophomore Jordan Dykstra – who visibly showed discomfort with a leg injury throughout – garnered five points and three rebounds in limited playing time.
Getting production off the bench when your starters are scuffling to beat a team predicted to win its conference region? To a team they squandered a lead to on the road last year? SDSU will take that.
“I’m really encouraged,” Nagy said. “I almost blew it with that techincal … but I think we’re a good team.”
Nagy ran out of superlatives for Wolters, who combined with Fiegen to score 10 of SDSU’s last 11 points in closing out the win, something SDSU failed to do in their matchup against WMU last year.
“We could talk about Nate all day, but there’s no need to,” Nagy said. “He’s that good.”
It’s the only time Frost Arena faithful see the Wolters-led Jacks until Dec. 8. During the home court drought, the Jacks have an eight-game road trip with games in five states.
“We want to continue to get better,” Fiegen said, who scored only two points off the bench last year against the defending MAC West champion Broncos. “We’re a really good team this year, we think we can compete.”