Men crush USD, remain perfect in Summit

Skyler Jackson, Sports Editor (He/Him)

The South Dakota State Jackrabbits were back in action Saturday night at Frost Arena, scoring the first 11 points of the game before cruising to an 84-65 win against South Dakota.

It was USD’s first game since Dec. 22 after having two games postponed and a number of their practices impacted by COVID-19 complications. The short-handed Coyotes appeared rusty early, leading to SDSU’s 19-point victory in front of 3,351 fans.

The Summit League-leading Jackrabbits are currently on a four-game winning streak as they improved to 13-4 on the season and 4-0 in the conference. They are also undefeated at home this season. Their last loss at Frost Arena was to the Coyotes in February of last season.

“It’s a rivalry game, and we were fired up to win,” SDSU guard Baylor Scheierman said. “We played really well, especially offensively, and I thought we played well in spurts defensively, and we got the job done.”

Scheierman was the Jackrabbits’ most efficient scorer. He had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists and shot a perfect 8-8 from the field and 3-3 from three-point range. Freshman Zeke Mayo was SDSU’s leading scorer with 21 points on 7-10 shooting, including 5-6 from three, and he added five rebounds.

After Mayo and Scheierman helped spark the 11-0 run, the Coyotes eventually got back in the game, cutting the lead to 25-22 with nine minutes left in the first half. But the Jackrabbits answered with a 24-8 run to end the first half. From there, the game was all but decided.

In that first half, SDSU shot the ball nearly 68% from the field and were 8-11 on three-point attempts. Not too bad for a team that leads the nation in three-point percentage.

“We were making shots, getting stops on the defensive end, and we were getting out in transition early,” Mayo said. “That gave our team a lot of confidence going throughout the game.”

Other leading scorers for the Jacks were Douglas Wilson, who scored 10 points and added three rebounds in 20 minutes. Luke Appel had 13 points, five rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes off the bench. The Jackrabbits shot 14-16 from the free-throw line as a team.

For the Coyotes, Mason Archambault played 40 minutes and scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Hunter Goodrick had 15 points in 28 minutes, and Kruz Perrott-Hunt added 10 points and five rebounds.

Coming into the game, USD was fourth in the nation in free-throw attempts. But on Saturday, they were held to only 3-4 from the foul line. Jacks coach Eric Henderson emphasized how well his team kept USD from the free-throw line all night.

“We talked a lot about it,” Henderson said. “We wanted to own the paint and play without fouling. They’ve done a terrific job of getting to the foul line. Give our guys credit because they executed the plan.”

Looking ahead, the Jackrabbits hope to keep their winning streak alive Jan. 13 at 3-13 Omaha. They then return to Frost Arena Jan. 15 to take on 6-11 Denver.