Men fail to win their final game for three seniors, 69-64 to Centenary

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

The Jackrabbits’ men’s basketball team ended their first season in the Summit League with a home loss to Centenary (La.) 69-64 to finish last in the 10 team conference.

The night started by honoring the three seniors on the team: Mohamed Berte, Ben Beran and Michael Loney, who each received framed pictures and a standing ovation from the 2,922 in attendance.

Beran went out and put up 12 points and a career-high tying 13 rebounds. Beran finishes his SDSU career third on the all-time scoring list with 1,285 points. Loney’s first start of the season ended with three points and five rebounds to put a cap on his tenure at SDSU.

In a battle of the bottom two teams in the conference, the Jacks jumped out to a quick start, holding a 9-3 lead. The start was a drastic improvement on the 0-for-15 start from the field against Oral Roberts on Feb. 28.

The Gents and Jacks traded the lead several times in the final seven minutes of the first half before a pair of Dale Moss free throws with one second left pulled SDSU within one point at halftime, trailing 32-31. Moss finished with a career high 11 points, five rebounds and a team high three assists.

In the first nine minutes of the second half, Centenary’s guard combination of Tyrone Hamilton and Nick Stallings scored the next 18 points for the Gents. Stallings finished with a game high 22 points and eight rebounds, while Hamilton had 16 points including three of three from beyond the arc.

A Garrett Callahan steal led to a jumper, resulting in the last lead of the game for the Jackrabbits at the 10:11 mark of the second half. Centenary put the game away by going on a 10-1 run over the next six minutes.

Kai Williams hit his third 3-pointer of the game with 15 seconds left, cutting the Centenary lead to 68-64. Williams led SDSU with 15 points and 13 rebounds, which put his two-game total against Centenary at 43 points and 31 rebounds.

Centenary will go to the Summit League tournament as the eighth seed to face number one seed Oral Roberts March 8 in Tulsa, Okla. The winner will go on in the Summit League tournament.

Next season, the Jackrabbits will be eligible for the NCAA Tournament after completing the transition to Division I.

The Jacks (8-21, 3-15 Summit) have now lost 20 or more games in three consecutive seasons after losing 20 games only once in the previous 93 years of Jackrabbit basketball.

Patience has been the word coach Scott Nagy stressed with the 2007-08 Jacks and future teams.

Fans have supported the team all season long, averaging over 2,000 a game; good for fourth in all the Summit League.

The Jacks will be Summit League and Divison I NCAA tournament eligible in the 2008-09 season.

The three-day Summit League tournament will take place in Sioux Falls next year.