Men rally from 17 down


Junior point guard Deondre Parks goes for the layup against visiting North Dakota.

SDSU men’s basketball only led for 47 seconds of the game, but that was enough as the Jackrabbits rallied from 17 points down to defeat the University of North Dakota by a final score of 74-72 to earn their first victory of the season.

The opening minutes saw UND catch fire shooting the ball while the Jacks struggled, finishing the half at 38 percent from the field while UND drained 65 percent of their shots and held advantages in rebounding and points in the paint.

“Really they had their kids more ready in terms of strategy and emotion and all those things,” said head coach Scott Nagy  “They did a better job of coaching than we did and our kids kind of made up for our coaching in the second half.”

Out of the break, SDSU played with more energy, scoring the first seven points of the half, cutting into the UND lead.

“We knew South Dakota State would come out and play,” said UND head coach Brian Jones.

The Jacks closed to as few as five points down on two occasions midway through the half, but each time UND responded.

Deondre Parks led the way with 19 points in his first official game in Frost Arena, but ran into foul trouble in the second half, keeping him on the bench for several minutes before he returned only to pick up his fifth at the 7:38 mark. Even so, hope was not yet lost for the Jacks.

“That was tough,” said senior forward Cody Larson. “A lot of guys were in foul trouble but you got to learn to play through that. That gave some of the younger guys a great opportunity to step up and like I said, they stepped up and played a heck of a game.”

SDSU once again closed to within five with three-and-a-half minutes remaining and then tied it after Larson converted a pair of free throws and Jake Bittle knocked down a three.

“We were just hungry honestly,” Larson said. “We were in two close games before this and we just wanted it. Playing at home you have that energy.”

Then with under two minutes to play, Larson put the Jacks ahead for the first time all night, 69-67.

After tying the game, UND drew a technical foul and consecutive trips to the line by Anders Broman and Larson put the Jacks back up two as they split their attempts.

UND would again tie it back up, but Bittle hit the game-winner as the shot clock was winding down and tacked on a free throw to seal the victory as the Jacks would foul Tyler Estan who missed his second shot, but his teammates were unable to to secure the ball, allowing the Jacks to escape with the comeback.

“Coach just told me at the end he was going to put it in my hands to make a play and luckily the shot went in,” Bittle said. “It was kind of a weird shot but I’ll take it.”

UND held Larson in check for much of the night, but he finished strong in the final minutes to put up 15 points for the game to go along with six rebounds which tied for a team-high with Skyler Flatten’s six boards.

Jaron Nash led UND with 18 points and eight rebounds. Teammates Estan and Chad Calcaterra joined him with 17 and 13 points respectively.

The achilles heel for UND was their free throw shooting in the second half where they went eight for 17. For the game they shot just over 55 percent compared to SDSU who shot just under 76 percent.

“Eight for 17 from the foul line in the second half, you’re not going to win,” Jones said.

On Monday, the Jackrabbits will return to the court to host Chadron State at 8:30 p.m. following the women’s game against Sam Houston State which is set to tip at 6 p.m.