Jacks edge North Alabama to improve to 4-2

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

It was close the whole game, but the South Dakota State men’s basketball team held on for a 78-73 win over North Alabama Tuesday night at Frost Arena.

Led by sophomore Matt Dentlinger’s 17 point, 11 rebound double-double and senior Brandon Key’s 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, the Jackrabbits gained the lead in the second half and never gave it back. 

First-year head coach Eric Henderson has stressed that despite junior Douglas Wilson’s fast start to the season, his team has a host of athletes who can step up on any given night.

SDSU (4-2) proved that against UNA (2-3).

Wilson struggled at times, turning the ball over eight times in 34 minutes of action, though he would finish just shy of a double-double of his own with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Freshman Noah Freidel also stepped up, connecting on three 3-pointers and finishing with 13 points. The four Jacks in double figures is a season-high for a regulation contest (five Jacks reached double-digits in the Nov. 9 double-overtime win over CSU Bakersfield).

UNA, only in its second year of a transition to Division I, had key players that didn’t ‘show up,’ but the coaching staff is looking to build off of this game.

“I think this is a learning lesson for the guys that didn’t show up and for the young guys on my team, they have to figure it out and learn from that,” said Lion head coach Tony Pujol.

Pujol was familiar with the Jackrabbits years before this trip to Frost Arena. A former assistant for the University of Wyoming before taking over at UNA last year, Pujol was on the opposing sideline for two Wyoming wins over Mike Daum and Reed Tellinghuisen-led Jackrabbit teams. were on the team.

He said that, although they have lost players, the program’s culture hasn’t changed and he sees success for this Jackrabbit squad. The respect was reciprocated, with Henderson complimenting Pujol’s guidance of the Lions in the midst of a transition.

Up next, the Jacks head to Tucson, Arizona, for a matchup with the 14th-ranked University of Arizona Wildcats (4-0), who have outscored opponents by an average of 34.5 points per contest, at 8 p.m. CST Nov. 21. 

The men will be back in Frost Arena to take on Mississippi Valley State at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, for Epilepsy Awareness Night.