MBB: Shorthanded Jackrabbits fall to Bison in OT

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

FARGO, N.D. — Missing its star player, Douglas Wilson, South Dakota State University could not clinch an outright Summit League title over North Dakota State on Thursday at the Scheels Center, falling 71-69 in overtime. 

“We certainly left some plays out there tonight,” SDSU head coach Eric Henderson said in a postgame radio interview. “… We were confident coming in, our guys felt like we were going to win, with or without Doug. Doug is a great player, but we have great players that don’t get a lot of minutes sometimes too.”

Both teams battled through long scoring droughts and lead changes all the way to the end, but it was the Bison who came out on top, allowing them to share the conference title with SDSU should they win against the University of Nebraska Omaha Saturday.

“We felt like we should’ve won this game and it hurts,” redshirt sophomore Matt Dentlinger said. 

Stepping up for the Jackrabbits were Dentlinger and freshman Noah Freidel. Dentlinger had 20 points and six rebounds, Freidel finished with 23 points and eight rebounds.

“Noah is a big game player, loves the moment,” Henderson said. “We tried to get the ball in his hands… Matt is a beast; he is a warrior. He has come so far since he has been a Jackrabbit — the amount of work he puts in is really, really special. It’s really nice to see guys that put in the work get rewarded.”

Not only did Dentlinger and Freidel step up but so did sophomore Alou Dillon. He came in for eight minutes and shot 100% from the floor for seven points.

“It was fun to watch Alou out there,” Henderson said. “He was excited to get out there for his opportunity… Really, really proud of him for obviously performing well but maybe more importantly just being ready for the moment.

On the other side, senior Tyson Ward led the Bison with 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

With Wilson injured and the conference tournament just over a week away, the Jacks certainly didn’t need to see any more players go down, but senior Brandon Key looked to have lower-body pain late in the game and redshirt freshman Matt Mims went down with an apparent ankle injury on the game’s final possession. No immediate update on their conditions was available.

Heading into the Summit League tournament, Henderson is looking forward to having a week off to recover and prepare for the battles that lie ahead.

“We are down for [a break] right now, I wasn’t sure earlier, but I think it is pretty good for us right now,” Henderson said. “I told all of the guys in the locker room that we are going to run out of dudes. It’ll be a good time for us to get off of our feet a little bit and catch our breath… You are who you are this time of year but just get a little bit better, that’s what it’s all about.”

Now, all focus can turn to the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, where the Jacks will be a top-two seed and begin postseason play Saturday, March 7.

“It’s pretty surreal that our regular season is over,” Henderson said. “We’ve at least clinched a share of the conference championship… The fun is just beginning, it’s the best time of the year.”