Jackrabbit basketball opens Summit slate

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

IUPUI’s fast start too much for Jacks

The SDSU men’s basketball team Summit League opener at IUPUI was never in doubt, as the Jaguars led the entire way en route to a 79-57 victory on Dec. 3.

IUPUI (7-2, 2-0) started on a 7-0 run that turned into a 43-28 halftime lead and a 30-point lead with five minutes left.

“If we come out and play flat like that in the first half, you have to do something to turn it around,” said Dale Moss, who finished with six points and five rebounds. “This is a conference game. There is no reason to be flat for it.”

The Jaguars shot 55 percent for the game and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds.

“Effort-wise, I just don’t think we have been where we should be,” said Moss. “That’s something that we have to figure out as a team. Our coaches have us prepared, but when it comes down to it, we have to give more effort and make more plays.”

While IUPUI was shooting at a high percentage, SDSU was having trouble getting open looks.

“We did a good job of making them shoot contested jumpers, and that was our goal defensively,” IUPUI head coach Ron Hunter said. “They had some open looks, but for the most part, we bothered them on the perimeter and never really let them get comfortable. We identified their shooters and did a good job of closing out on them. When we guard people like that, we’re tough to beat, especially at home.”

On the other hand, Scott Nagy was not very pleased with the Jacks’ defensive effort, a trend that has continued through the early part of the season.

“It’s hard to believe that we are the same team that went into Wyoming (and won) and played the way that we did,” said Nagy. “There isn’t any question that (IUPUI) has good players, but we are bad defensively right now. We have to get kids to commit to it, and we are not at that point right now. We are not anywhere near to being the defensive team that we should be, and it’s kind of strange because the first three games of the year we were.”

Forward Anthony Cordova had a team-high 14 points, with Clint Sargent going three-for-three from three-point land for 10 points.

IUPUI ended up with four players in double figures, led by 2008-09 Newcomer of the Year Robert Glenn who had 21 points and seven rebounds.

The Jags also had a 10-0 advantage on fast-break points in the win.

“We really wanted to make sure we took care of the basketball and focused on taking a good shot and not necessarily a quick shot,” Hunter said. “We knew we would have chances to get out in transition because of our press, but to win this game, we had to convert our chances when we had them.”

Men down WIU for first Summit road win

SDSU’s first-ever Summit League road win in 20 chances was also the 1,300th win in school history, as the Jacks defeated Western Illinois 80-74 on Dec. 5.

It looked a lot like the previous 19 conference road games, as SDSU faced a 16-point deficit with three minutes left in the first half before an 8-0 run put the Jacks down 37-29 at the half.

“Coach came in and let us know what their shooting percentage was (68 percent) and we knew we had to come out and play great defense and knock down big shots in the second half,” said point guard Michael Palarca.

Palarca would come off the bench and score 12 of his team-leading and career-high 14 points with four assists to help lead the Jacks against the Fighting Leathernecks (3-5, 0-2).

Thirty-three percent shooting in the first half turned into 60 percent in the second half. SDSU dominated on the boards, with a 40-22 advantage and Dale Moss contributing eight points and nine rebounds off the bench.

“The way things have been going for us, it would have been easy for us to roll over, and they didn’t,” said head coach Scott Nagy. “For our older kids to be able to put those bad experiences in the past and help pull these guys through, made a huge difference for our team.”

With the Jacks (4-5, 1-1) clinging to a one-point lead with two minutes left, Palarca shut down the door with a pair of 3-pointers, and Garrett Callahan iced it by going six-for-six from the free-throw line.

“This was a big win for us,” Palarca said. “It sets the standard for the next couple of games coming up.”

Nagy had continued to stress defense and rebounding as keys to breaking a five-game losing streak, and this game was no different.

“It’s ridiculous,” Nagy said. “We literally could not work on defense at all. It’s so frustrating. Again we didn’t get off to a very good start, and that’s been part of the problem. I was so pleased to see Mike Palarca come off the bench and give us a lift like that. It gives us more confidence in him, and we will be able to play him more. Chad White played great and Dale Moss off the bench, those three guys were fantastic for us.”

Freshmen White and Tony Fiegen each had nine points.

“We’ve got to give South Dakota State a lot of credit,” Western Illinois head coach Jim Molinari said. “They were very aggressive in getting to the boards tonight, and that certainly hurt us. We defended well in the first half, but then we got into foul trouble and that allowed them to get aggressive in the second half.”

SDSU will not have another conference game until Dec. 31 when they host Oral Roberts followed by a men’s and women’s doubleheader versus Centenary on Jan 2.

In the meantime, they will travel to Reno, Nev., to play Nevada on Dec. 12, host Cal Poly on Dec. 15 and Central Michigan on Dec. 19 and travel to play the University of Minnesota on Dec. 23.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Nagy said. “You don’t put up with things in wins that you wouldn’t put up with in losses, and we can’t put up with this bad defense.”