Shearer sets school record at UNL

Spencer Chase

SDSU is in rare territory in the Summit League and they are proving they belong there.

The Jackrabbits picked up a wire-to-wire win on Feb. 2 at Frost Arena, defeating league leader Oral Roberts, 75-60, in front of 4,255 fans. The win was nothing short of monumental in the Jacks’ hopes to stay in the regular season conference championship race, a game-and-a-half behind the Golden Eagles.

In a game that would carry a physical tone, ORU head coach Scott Sutton said that his team was too soft under the hoop and that the Jackrabbits won the game with the ability to play tough underneath.

“You’ve got to play with toughness and we played so soft. Our guys just didn’t respond. They punched us in the nose,” Sutton said.

The start of the game proved to be decisive, but not until the final whistle. The Jackrabbits opened the game on a 15-2 run and the game stayed relatively even from there. ORU rallied back into contention at 19-15 but the game returned to the control of the Jacks when they scored 16 of the next 24 points, putting SDSU up 11 points at the halftime break, 34-23.

“I think we just played a lot better defense tonight, honestly, and just playing with more heart and intensity than we did down there,” Jordan Dykstra said, referring to the 22-point loss the Jackrabbits suffered in Tulsa on Jan. 7, in which SDSU fell apart in pursuit of a second-half comeback.

The better defense mantra showed up on the stat sheet, as SDSU doubled the Golden Eagles in forced turnovers, 15-7. SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said earlier in the week that the team would have to become more defensively oriented if they wanted to get back to winning. He got the response that he wanted.

“The reason we won the game wasn’t because we played well offensively, it was because we competed with them defensively,” Nagy said.

SDSU took the home win behind another great performance from Nate Wolters, who scored 24 points and added nine of the Jacks’ 16 dizzying assists. Dykstra had 22 points and seven rebounds in SDSU’s 18th win.

Roderick Pearson and Warren Niles each had 14 points in the game for ORU, who made its final trip to Brookings before moving to the Southland Conference in 2012-13. The loss snapped a 13-game winning streak for Oral Roberts.

“This at least gave us a shot to be conference champs. But now we have to be perfect, you just can’t stub your toe anymore,” Nagy said.

ORU won on Feb. 4 at NDSU, allowing the Golden Eagles to stay in front for now and escaping the Dakotas with a critical split. Should they trip up, the Jackrabbits would have another chance to claim the tournament’s top seed, based on postseason tiebreakers.