Jacks overpower Leathernecks

Drue Aman

Drue AmanSports Editor

So much for seniors imposing their will on senior night – SDSU didn’t really need them.

The Jacks (17-9, 9-6) got fiery effort from underclassman Jordan Dykstra and out-rebounded Western Illinois (7-18, 2-12) by 14 in a far-from-close 82-61 win at Frost Arena in front of 3,885 fans Feb. 12.

Those seniors, Clint Sargent, Dale Moss and Peyton Tivis combined for only 14 points, deferring most production offensively to Dykstra, who scored all 20 of his points in the second half while the rest of the Jacks squad saw three other underclassmen score in double figures.

Most of the emotion came beforehand for head coach Scott Nagy, who in a rare moment was visibly emotional during ceremonies for Sargent, Moss and Tivis.

“When I left the floor before the game, I saw Dale’s sister rolling the wheelchair and it just reminded “oh yeah, the families are coming’ my head was on the game and it took me back to this (being) the last time I talk to the guys before they go out in our meeting room,” Nagy said.

“I was hoping I wouldn’t break up – when those guys came here four years ago we weren’t great and they’ve been through a lot … I just appreciate them a lot, I really do.”

Besides Western Illinois’ two quick buckets to open the first half, the Jacks never trailed after a free throw by junior Griffan Callahan. A 9-0 run capped by a jump shot from freshman Chad White moved the lead to 12. White’s two free throws merely five minutes later in the half made it a 22-point game, to which the Leathernecks never came close to recovering from.

“Scott [Nagy] has his team playing at a high level right now,” said Western Illinois head coach Jim Molinari. “They’re outstanding offensively and they get better defensively.”

The Jacks allowed only 35 percent Leathernecks shooting from the field and forced as many turnovers (8) as field goals in the first half. Not only that, the Jacks notched 42 total rebounds, 30 of them defensive.

On the offensive end, three of the five players scoring in double-figures were freshman or sophomores. Freshman Dykstra’s 20 points led the team, with Callahan’s 13, White’s 12, Sargent and Fiegen’s 10 leading the scoring. SDSU’s 26-of-27 free throw shooting were the second most makes in a game and a season-high for percentage.

That offensive output allowed for plenty of opportunities for a worth senior exit from the game. Moss, Tivis and Sargent subbed out with just over three minutes left to high fanfare from the partisan crowd, something not privileged to recent senior classes.

“It was special,” Sargent said. “I’m glad I got to out with a win. I know last year we lost [on senior night] … the whole season has been very special.”

The win marks – besides next to a season-low for field-goal defense – yet another double-digit win, something the Jacks can lay claim to in all but one of their 17 wins.

“We talked to our younger guys about making Thursday and Saturday a good weekend for these kids,” Nagy said. “We did that, it was fun.”