Jackrabbits fight past Leathernecks at Frost

Marcus Traxler


Western Illinois rarely finds a defensive struggle that they don’t like and SDSU played along until the threes were too much for the Leathernecks.

In what can best be described as a rock fight, the Jackrabbits showed their outside shooting prowess in a 74-57 win over the Leathernecks Feb. 23 in Brookings, extending SDSU’s home winning streak to 16 games.

Despite having locked up their seed for the Summit League Tournament, the Jacks were desperate to avoid a letdown before the conference tournament and trying to save their mark as an undefeated team at home.

“Everybody I talked to this week was talking about the tournament, they weren’t really talking about this weekend,” Head Coach Scott Nagy said. “So we worked really hard to keep our players focused just on this game.”

SDSU made nine three-pointers, five of them from Jordan Dykstra who complete a perfect night from behind the arc with 23 points and eight rebounds.

“We just had to swing the ball from wing to wing and the coaches have been harping on us all week because we haven’t been doing that lately. We did that and we had some open shots,” Dykstra said.

Playing ugly is how the Leathernecks like to roll and they’ve used it to battle the top teams before including the first meeting between the two teams in December, when the Jackrabbits prevailed by a point in Macomb, Ill. But WIU coach Jim Molinari said that his team tried to play faster in the game and, with little depth, found themselves in big trouble later.

The Jackrabbits (23-7,14-3) opened the game to a 7-0 start but unlike their recent home trend of blowing out Summit League teams at home, Western fought their way back into the game, scoring 10 of the next 12 points. SDSU rallied for a 17-5 run over the middle of the first half and the Jackrabbits built an 11-point lead at the break.

WIU had trouble controlling the pace in the second half and the Jacks’ continued to get open looks from deep, connecting on three more triples, the last of which came from Dykstra to make it a 20-point game with over three minutes left.

SDSU finished the game with a 12 rebound advantage over the ‘Necks and finished with 19 assists on 26 made field goals, their best assist-rate in a single game all year. Perhaps most importantly, the Jackrabbits played well without the full assistance of Nate Wolters, who had fallen under the weather and was described by Nagy as human. Despite a season-low 10 points, his impact was felt.

“He was about as human as I’ve seen him tonight. He should feel good about it and our team should feel good, too,” Nagy said.