Mastodons outmuscle Jacks, ruins five win streak in I

By Robert myers Sports Editor

 After winning five straight games, the SDSU men’s basketball team closed out their stretch of four straight road games falling to Fort Wayne with a final score of 82-75.

The Mastodons entered the Jan. 11 contest as a team that had not been projected to contend for the Summit League title but nevertheless amassed Summit League leading 13-5 record including a home win over a Summit League favorite at North Dakota State on Jan. 9. Meanwhile, the 9-7 Jacks entered the game still missing key depth in Connor Devine.

The game began with the Jacks quickly putting up five points, but the Mastodons countered with eight of their own to take an 8-5 lead at the 17:28 mark. The Jacks trailed by as many as eight points in the half before eventually tying the game at 42 with just over a minute to play, only to watch the Mastodons retake a 44-42 lead going into the half. 

“They outscored us 22-2 in the first half in the paint, coach Nagy told us at half time,” Brayden Carlson said. “And that’s just a sign of their physically, them wanting it more and them coming out with a lot more poise and just readiness for the game.”

SDSU retook the lead three minutes into the second half when Jordan Dykstra scored on a dunk off of a Jake Bittle assist to put the Jacks up 50-49. Carlson then added two more points to the lead at the 16:28 mark. 

The Mastodons battled back, and during the following four minutes the lead changed four times before IPFW finally claimed a 57-56 lead that they would not relinquish. The Jacks didn’t give up, but during the final 11 minutes of the game IPFW never let them come closer than four points on route to their second conference victory which placed them alone atop the Summit League standings.

Much of the Jacks troubles came inside the paint where they were outscored 42-16. IPFW also dominated the second chance point category, 12-4, and rebounding category, 36-29.

“I don’t know if it’s [points in the paint] the difference but I think it explains the level of their intensity and the level of ours and the level of their toughness and the level of ours,” Nagy said. “… You can’t talk about winning conference championships and just let other people want it more. We’ve talked about this before. We’ve got to develop a tougher shell to us.”

The Jacks also had some bright spots in their performance. Despite struggling with the three-ball all season, they shot 45.5 percent from three-point territory and also shot 82.6 percent from the free throw line. 

“A lot of that comes from us trying to go inside and then getting shots going from inside outside,” Carlson said. “Even though we didn’t score a lot inside we got the ball inside to kick it out to guys to get open shots.”

Carlson led the team with a career high of 24 points to go along with three assists and three rebounds. Dykstra accounted for 18 points, six rebounds and two assists while Cody Larson scored 12 points, rebounded eight and made two assists. Also finishing in double figures was Chad White who had 12 points, six rebounds and a pair of assists.

Despite having the star power, the Jacks lost the battle of the benches. Only six Jackrabbits scored compared to eight Mastodons and IPFW’s bench outscored SDSU’s bench 24-9.

The 9-8 (1-1) Jacks will finally return to Brookings for three straight home games beginning on Jan. 16 when they will host a 7-9 (1-0) Western Illinois team at 7 pm in Frost Arena.