Mastodons can’t keep up

Robert Myers Sports Editor

The SDSU men’s basketball team won its third straight in a convincing 79-51 victory over Fort Wayne, a team that entered the game with the Summit League’s best record. 

Despite entering the game with a 6-1 conference record and ranked 19 in the Mid-Major Top-25, Mastodon head coach Tony Jasick was concerned about his team’s defense as of late.

“I thought this was a storm that was brewing,” Jasick said. “We have not played very well on the defensive end for a couple weeks but we’ve been able to outscore people.”

Jake Bittle led the early Jackrabbit attack, scoring eight points within the first seven minutes of play. As the half wore on, the rest of the team joined him and combined to make five of six three-point attempts and shoot 56.3 from the field. 

“If Jake and Chad play like that then we’re pretty good offensively,” head coach Scott Nagy said. “Jake gave us a really good start and kind of got us going because I didn’t think our energy was very good right away but Jake had energy. And then we kind of picked it up from there. When Chad will shoot like that, then we’re pretty hard to guard.”

The Jacks came out of the locker room and started the second half firing on all cylinders as they raced out on an 18-5 run to distance themselves from the Mastodons.

“Coach came in at halftime and just said the first four possessions are going to be the biggest possessions of the game,” Chad White said. “They’re number one in the Summit so you can’t come out lightly and we didn’t. Brayden and Cody brought a lot of energy, just kept us going.”

The Jacks led by as many as 32 down the stretch in the second half, allowing Nagy to substitute liberally. Twelve Jackrabbits saw game action during Thursday’s game, a stark contrast to their last game against USD when only eight players saw action.

Dykstra led the all players with 18 points, having made both of his three-point attempts. He grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists. Larson finished the game with 17 points and five rebounds. Chad White also finished in double figures, making five of seven from behind the arc.

Statistically speaking, they had their best ball movement all season as SDSU recorded a season-high 21 assists during the game, six coming from Bittle and five from Carlson. 

The Jacks outrebounded the Mastodons 42-30 and held them to a 35.2 shooting percentage from the field. IPFW’s leading scorer on the game was Steve Forbes, scoring 10 and the only Mastodon to finish in double figures.  

“Our defense tonight led to everything else,” Nagy said. “It led to energy on the glass. It led to passing the ball extremely well, shooting the ball well. … We got great shots. I thought the kids did a great job of executing the game plan.”

With the win, SDSU pulled to within one game of first place in the Summit league, an achievement that seemed out of their grasp entering the Denver game but that has since become something for the team to strive for.

“We talk about it that we’d have to go 6-1 or 7-0 probably to get it done,” Nagy said. “But that’s all we talk about. Now, it’s just focus on each game. But yes, that’s still a goal. As long as mathematically that’s within reach, that’s going to be a goal.”