Men’s basketball wins road shootout against UND

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — With just over a week left in Summit League play, the South Dakota State men’s basketball team won a high-scoring battle 94-83 against the University of North Dakota Wednesday night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Wednesday’s rematch was more closely-contested than the first meeting in Brookings when the Jacks pulled away in an 87-66 win, and a big reason why was the play of UND sophomore Filip Rebraca, who matched up with SDSU’s Douglas Wilson for much of the evening.

Rebraca led his team with 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to combat Wilson’s career-high-tying 31-point effort.

In the first half alone, the lead changed 12 times, there were three ties and the Jacks (21-8, 12-2 Summit) led by just five into halftime against the hot-shooting Fighting Hawks (12-15, 6-7 Summit).

“It was a fun basketball game,” SDSU head coach Eric Henderson said in a postgame radio interview. “It was back and forth, both teams were playing very well offensively. They were making some tough shots.”

To stay close with the league leaders in the first half, UND hit 7-of-12 3-pointers including a 5-for-6 effort from Kienan Walter that accounted for all 15 of his first-half points.

“We got into a groove early in the game,” Wilson said in a postgame radio interview. “Coming in, we knew this team was going to be ready for us and we knew that in order to win this game we were going to have to score buckets and defend. Tonight, we really just relied on our offense rather than our defense.”

Not letting the Jacks put the game away until the final moments, Walter, Rebraca and Marlon Stewart kept UND in the game throughout. Walter matched Rebraca’s 23 points and Stewart had 21 points and eight assists.

“We knew this team wasn’t going anywhere, especially on their home court,” Wilson said.

The offensively efficient Jackrabbits didn’t give the Fighting Hawks a chance to take the lead in the second half, as SDSU shot 72.7% in the second half and 64.2% on the game. Joining Wilson in double figures were freshmen Noah Freidel (21) and Baylor Scheierman (11) and sophomore Alex Arians (11).

Hoping to ride the momentum of a seven-game win streak into a pair of rivalry games to end the season, the Jackrabbits face the University of South Dakota Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m in Frost Arena. When the teams met in Vermillion earlier in the season, Wilson was out due to injury and the Coyotes won 99-84.

“We have unfinished business to do,” Henderson said. “… I know Sunday is going to be one heck of an atmosphere.” 

The last game of the regular season falls on Feb. 27 when SDSU heads to Fargo for a game against North Dakota State that could decide the Summit League regular season title race. NDSU is 11-2 in Summit play and a half-game back of the Jacks’ pace. The Bison defeated USD Wednesday night, securing a top-two seed for themselves and the Jackrabbits.