Men continue hot streak on the road

Skyler Jackson, Sports Editor (He/Him)

The South Dakota State men’s basketball team remains perfect in the Summit League, picking up two more road wins Thursday and Saturday against St. Thomas and Western Illinois.

This pushes SDSU’s winning streak to eight games in a row as they improved to 17-4 overall on the season, including 8-0 in the conference.

“Very proud of our guys for going on the road into a couple of tough environments,” Eric Henderson said. “Offensively, we were playing at a very high level, and I thought defensively we had some stretches.”

Against St. Thomas on Thursday, the Jackrabbits used a late rally in the game’s final six minutes to walk away with a 92-77 win.

Both teams struggled early, with neither side reaching double digits until about six minutes into the game. But both would eventually find a rhythm. After the two teams traded baskets, the Tommies surged ahead, taking a five-point lead into halftime.

Throughout most of the second half, the two teams again traded baskets, and with 5:52 left in the second half, the teams were tied at 72-72. From that point on, it was all-SDSU who ended the game on a 20-5 run and cruised to a 15-point victory.

Alex Arians led both teams in scoring with a career-high 20 points. He also added eight rebounds, three assists and shot 6-6 from the free-throw line.

In total, five Jackrabbits scored in double figures on Thursday. Baylor Scheierman notched his third straight double-double and 22nd of his career with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Zeke Mayo also had 15 points, Douglas Wilson had 14 and Matt Mims had 10 off the bench.

As a team, SDSU shot 63.5% from the field, including 77.2% in the second half, and hit 11 3-pointers. After only shooting four free throws in the first half, the Jacks got to the line 19 times in the second half and made 17 of them.

For the Tommies, all five of their starters managed to score in double figures, with Ryan Lindberg leading the way with 18 points. Anders Nelson had 13 points, Riley Miller had 12 and Burt Hedstrom and Parker Bjorklund each had 11.

The Jackrabbits then headed to Macomb, Illinois, Saturday to take on the Leathernecks. After a slow start offensively, the Jackrabbits picked it up in the first half and never looked back, cruising to a 93-75 win.

“Western has had a lot of success at their place up to date,” Henderson said. “So, just proud of how our guys came together and played selflessly.”

SDSU again got off to a slow start in that game, missing its first six shots. After initially trailing to WIU, a Scheierman triple gave the Jacks momentum, leading to a 17-3 run to put SDSU ahead by seven. By halftime, the Jackrabbits led 40-29.

SDSU built off that momentum to start the second half, beginning with an 11-0 run that stretched their lead to 22. After that, Western Illinois cut the lead to 16 a couple of times but could never get any closer, and SDSU walked away with an 18-point win.

Scheierman had 17 points on 5-8 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Mayo, Wilson and Arians would again score in double figures. Mayo and Wilson each finished with 15 points, and Arians had 13. Luke Appel also added 13 points in 20 minutes off the bench.

“Other than the start and taking care of the basketball, I thought that was as complete a game as we’ve played since Oral Roberts,” Henderson said. “Proud of our guys, but just looking to continue to get better, and we’re excited to be home for this weekend.”

The Jackrabbits will be back at Frost Arena to take on conference rivals North Dakota Thursday, Jan. 27, and North Dakota State Saturday, Jan. 29.

For UND, they’ll be heading into Frost Arena with a 4-16 record overall and 0-7 in the Summit League this season. They currently sit in last place in the conference standings. NDSU has fared slightly better, with a 12-7 overall record and a 4-3 conference record.