Jacks hold on for Thanksgiving Eve win

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

The Thanksgiving Eve matchup Wednesday night at Frost Arena was nothing short of a fight for both teams, but South Dakota State managed to take the win over Samford, 86-77.

“That was a very good basketball team that we beat,” SDSU head coach Eric Henderson said. “…They are very dynamic and that point guard (Samford’s Josh Sharkey) is very, very special.”

The evenly matched Bulldogs (4-4) and Jackrabbits (6-3) shot nearly the same in the first half (Jacks 46.9%, Bulldogs 50%). The Jacks led 43-38 going into halftime with the help of freshman Noah Freidel’s 3-point shooting. 

Freidel shot 75% from behind the arc, 67% from inside and had 11 points to go with four rebounds. SDSU junior Douglas Wilson led with 15 points and six rebounds at the half.

Samford’s senior leader, Sharkey, delivered an all-around first half with nine points, five assists and six steals. Sharkey holds the Samford University record for career assists (579) and steals (216) and added to those totals Wednesday.

But outside of the star guard, it was Samford’s work defensively that kept the Bulldogs close throughout the night.

“When a team switches defense like Samford did, it took us a little while to get used to that,” Henderson said.

The battle continued in the second half with a score change and was tied nine times. Neither team could pull away, each team making big shots and watching as the other responded shortly after.

“We just came out and had to play hard and things just started flowing more natural in the second half,” Freidel said. 

Freidel and sophomore Alex Arians created energy with their combined seven 3-pointers. Arians ended with 12 points and Freidel added 20 points and seven rebounds.

“This team is balanced,” Henderson said. “…I thought Alex made a really big step tonight. We need Alex, we needed him to start playing better and he understood that. He needed to get more aggressive and he did that on both sides of the ball tonight.”

Also showcasing his talents tonight, Wilson had a double-double with 30 points and 10 rebounds, adding three assists and two steals. 

Sharkey went down late and had to be helped off the court in the second half, but returned and later fouled out. He ended with 16 points, nine assists, six steals and two rebounds.

Jacks closed the game with a seven-point run to secure the hard-fought win.

Following a short break for Thanksgiving, the Jacks head to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the Indiana University Hoosiers (6-0) at 3 p.m. Central time Saturday.