Men struggle on the road

Marshall Minihan, Sports Reporter

After going 1-2 on the road in their last three games, the South Dakota State men’s basketball team returns to Frost Arena this weekend to face North Dakota and North Dakota State.

The Jacks (12-11, 7-4 Summit League) suffered close losses to both Western Illinois and St. Thomas last week before narrowly defeating Kansas City Monday. 

“We put ourselves in some tough situations three games in a row on the road,” Jacks coach Eric Henderson said. “To put ourselves in positions to win each and every one of those games, I was really really proud of our guys.”

SDSU is now in third place in the Summit League standings with seven games to play before the confrence tournament.

They now hope to rebound Thursday against UND. The Fighting Hawks (7-16, 1-9) are in last place in the conference standings. They are sixth in the conference in both scoring offense (69.3 points per game) and scoring defense (72.6 allowed per game).

Their leading scorer is B.J. Omot with 11.2 points per game, their leading rebounder is Tsotne Tsartsidze with five boards per game and their leader in assists is Jalun Trent with 2.7 per game.

After Thursday’s matchup against UND, the Jacks will then host NDSU Saturday. The Bison (9-13, 6-4) are in fourth place in the conference standings this season after finishing as the conference runner-up in the tournament last year.

They are fifth in the Summit League in points per game with 72.7 and seventh in points allowed per game at 73.7. Grant Nelson leads them in scoring, averaging 17 points a game and leads in rebounding, averaging 7.8 per game. Their assist leader is Boden Skunberg with 1.7 per game.

Before their matchups in Frost Arena this weekend, the Jackrabbits came off three hard-fought games.

The first game was in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Jan. 26, where SDSU fell to St. Thomas (14-10, 5-6 in Summit League).

Zeke Mayo led the Jacks with 23 points and five rebounds, shooting 8-13 on the night and 5-8 from the arch.

Matt Dentlinger proved effective in the paint, going for 15 points along with eight boards on the night. However, the other five Jacks who played put up a total of 16 points for the game.

St. Thomas took advantage of the SDSU seven-man active roster by scoring 16 points from off the bench while the Jacks could not muster a single point from off the bench.

“Going in a little short-handed, the chemistry our team had, the connectivity that we grew throughout the week was pretty special,” Henderson said.

The Tommies also proved effective on points off turnovers, scoring 18 while the Jacks trailed behind them with 11 of their own.

South Dakota State sent St. Thomas to the free throw line multiple times throughout the game, which they took advantage of, making 11 of 12 free throws.

After that loss to the Tommies, the Jacks traveled to Macomb, Illinois, to face Western Illinois in a closely contested game that went to overtime.

At the end of the first half, The Jacks held a 39-22 lead before the Leathernecks had a 47-point second half to defeat the Jacks in overtime.

Henderson explained that the team “lost their edge” in the second half of the game, leading to the 17-point comeback.

Mayo once again led the Jacks, this time with 29 points on the night while Dentlinger had 19. Matt Mims improved from his six-point outing in the previous game, shooting 4-for-8 on the night while ending the game with 11 points, four rebounds and an assist.

Trenton Massner took charge for the Leathernecks with an impressive stat line of 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Jesiah West led Western Illinois in a season-high rebounding performance with 13. The Leathernecks finished with 17 more rebounds than the Jackrabbits, including seven more offensive boards, leading to their impressive 17 second-chance points.

After back-to-back losses, the Jackrabbits faced Kansas City on the road in a rescheduled game originally planned for Dec. 21. 

With eight lead changes throughout the game, South Dakota State escaped Kansas City, with a win by a point.

Mayo gave the Jacks a one-point lead with 12 seconds left on the clock with a clutch free throw. The Roos went with an inbound lob with one second left to play in the game to guard Shemarri Allen which rolled around the rim before exiting, giving the Rabbits a victory.

Both William Kyle III and Mayo finished with over twenty points while Dentlinger and Mims finished with six each.

Kyle III and Dentlinger topped off in the rebound category, both with seven and Mims had three assists, the most of the night.

The Jacks shot well from the arc, going 6-15 (40%) while the Roos struggled from three, shooting 3-19 (15.8%).

Allen finished the game going 23-5-5 while teammate RayQuawndis Mitchell had 19 points. Mitchell shot nearly half of the team’s threes throughout the game going 1-8 with Allen shooting 1-5.

Allen David Mukeba had close to a third of his team’s boards, finishing with ten and putting up eight points of his own.

South Dakota State was not at its best from the free throw line, going 13-21 due to a disappointing 58% from the line in the second half.