Second half Kai Williams’ dunk sparks SDSU Summit League win

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

A season-high points effort propelled the Jackrabbits to an 81-75 win over conference opponent Western Illinois on Feb. 9 in front of a season-high 3,980 fans at Frost Arena.

The 36th Annual Pork Classic got off to a fast start as the Jacks held an early 7-2 lead. It held up as SDSU kept the halftime lead at 42-34.

The intensity of the game was already high, but it picked up in the second half. A technical foul was called on Leathernecks forward David DuBois for yelling a profanity at a Jackrabbit player. The Jacks connected on four straight foul shots to extend the lead to 50-41.

The next SDSU points came courtesy of a Kai Williams steal at midcourt that led to a breakaway one-handed dunk that brought the crowd of nearly 4,000 to their feet for a standing ovation. It was not be the only time the crowd stood up to applaud the team.

Late in the second half, senior center Mohammad Berte went down with a right arm injury that brought the entire Frost Arena crowd to silence. Some players said that they heard the bone snap as Berte tried to brace himself with his arm as he fell to the court. After trainers braced his forearm, the crowd gave Berte a standing ovation as he left the court with his left arm raised. This was Berte’s first start of the season, and he led all players in rebounds with eight.

Western Illinois closed the gap to three on a David Jackson layup with just under three minutes left in the game. It would turn into a free-throw contest in the final minutes as the Jacks hit nine of 12 down the stretch to close the game out.

The Jacks went 30 of 43 from the free-throw line, a season high. The last time SDSU attempted and made that many free throws in a game was against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 9, 2003, when they shot 38 for 50.

Ben Beran led SDSU in points with 18 as he continues his climb up the all-time SDSU points list where he currently ranks 16th. Three other Jackrabbits ended with double figures in points: Williams with 14, Clint Sargent added 12 and Michael Loney had 10-the third straight game that he has had double digits in points.

The win snapped a streak of seven losses in eight games. Also, the last time the Jacks scored more than 81 points in a game was over a year ago when they put up 82 at home against Texas Pan-American on Jan. 27 of last year.

The Jacks return to the court Feb. 14 when they travel to Cedar City, Utah to face Southern Utah. SDSU won the first meeting against SUU 66-62 on Jan. 19. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MT).