SDSU blows out rival USD, advances to championship game


Joclyn Haven

SDSU’s Zeke Mayo drives against USD’s Damani Hayes in their 83-60 win at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls Monday night. Mayo had an 13 points in the victory.

Evan Patzwald, Assistant Sports Editor

SIOUX FALLS – The South Dakota State Jackrabbits are heading back to the championship game of the Summit League Tournament for the first time since winning it back in 2018. SDSU beat rival USD 83-60 in the semifinals Monday night at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

The Jacks (29-4, 18-0) won the game in front of 10,418 fans, the fourth-highest single session attendance in the history of the tournament and record for the semifinal round. Their 29 wins was a program record in a single season and also their 20th consecutive victory.

USD (19-12, 11-7) took their first and only lead of the game after a 3-pointer from Mason Archambault in the opening minutes of the game. From then on, SDSU ran away with the game going on run after run until the game was out of reach early on. Baylor Scheierman hit a fadeaway jumper at the halftime buzzer for the second game in a row, giving the Jacks a 55-30 lead at halftime.

“I thought defensively, especially in that first half, we were locked in, and we made it pretty hard for them to score,” coach Eric Henderson said postgame. “When we were getting stops, we were able to play with some pace offensively.”

SDSU’s played one of their best halves all season long in the first half, shooting 69% from the field, 62.5% from three-point range, committing only one turnover and going into the break with a 25-point lead. There were multiple moments when the crowd was on their feet and held the majority of the people in attendance.

“We’ve had some good offensive halves so far this season,” Scheierman said. “We’re definitely locked in, and we took what they were giving us and took good shots. We’re a pretty efficient and electric team, especially when we’re getting shots that we want to get. We’re pretty dangerous offensively.”

Scheierman led the Jacks in scoring at halftime, putting up 15 points in the first 20 minutes. Douglas Wilson had 12 points and 4 rebounds, while freshman Zeke Mayo had 13 points, shooting 3-for-3 on 3-pointers. Not bad for his first Summit League Tournament appearance.

“I got opportunities early in the year,” Mayo said of his performance. “Coach put trust in me and I think it’s my job to take those opportunities and take advantage of them and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Coming out of the break, the Coyotes showed more poise as they had more shots falling but were never able to come within striking distance of the Jackrabbits.

SDSU finished the game shooting 59.6% overall and 42.1% from three. They led by as many as 27 points with 4:01 left in the game and led for just about the entirety.

Scheierman had 18 total points in the game along with five rebounds and three assists. Wilson had a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Mayo finished with 13 and Charlie Easley and Luke Appel had eight points apiece.

The Jacks now head to the championship game for the first time since winning the game 97-87 over USD in 2018. Last season, they entered as the top overall seed and lost to fourth-seeded Oral Roberts on a game-winning tip-in at the buzzer. ORU would go on to win the championship and win two games in the NCAA Tournament. Scheierman is taking advantage of the opportunity after being sent home early a year ago.

“It feels pretty good not to be going home at this point and playing another day,” Scheierman said. “Like coach said, we are excited and are happy with how we played tonight, but now It’s turning the page and getting ready for tomorrow.”

For South Dakota, they are sent home for the season, but have a lot to be happy about given where the state of their roster was at coming into this season. Stanley Umude is now a graduate transfer at Arkansas and A.J. Plitzuweit did not play at all this season because of an injury he sustained last year. He averaged 19 ppg a year ago.

Regardless, the Coyotes were able to pick up 19 wins during the year and had big contributors including Archambault, Kruz Perrott-Hunt and Tasos Kamateros that were able to make the season successful.

Kamateros picked up two fouls early in the game and would have to take a seat on the bench. That threw off USD’s game plan from the start.

“Even though they do a good job on him and double him in the post, he’s a very important part of what we do offensively,” USD coach Todd Lee said. “He’s one of the people that they double now and that creates an advantage, so when he picked up those fouls, that’s big.”

Perrott-Hunt led the way for the Coyotes with 19 points, followed by Archambault with 10.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s championship game, SDSU will either play North Dakota State or Oral Roberts. In their regular season matchups, SDSU swept both opponents, but none of the games came easy.

In both of their matchups with NDSU, SDSU won by four points. In their Dec. 30 matchup, the Jacks got out to a big lead early and saw the Bison storm back and tie the game but ultimately lost the game. Jan. 29 was their second time seeing each other, this time in Brookings. It was a back-and-forth game all night long, but the Jacks grinded out an 80-76 win.

Oral Roberts played tight with SDSU as well. On Dec. 22 SDSU would win by six points at home. Their second matchup was arguably the game of the year in the conference as the Jacks saw themselves down double-digits early on.  They climbed back into and two clutch free throws from Luke Appel would tie the game and send it to overtime. They would prevail in overtime thanks to a career night and all-time Jackrabbit performance from Appel. He finished with 41 points in the 106-102 win.

The game will be played at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN2. The winner will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.