Wolters leads Jacks in Bison blowout


After SDSU edged NDSU in an overtime win in Fargo earlier this year, SDSU could breathe easy, knowing they could beat the Bison.

Wednesday night, they took “beating the Bison” to a whole new level.

Powered by a 30-point performance by Nate Wolters, the Jacks obliterated NDSU in convincing fashion, 80-57 in front of 3,303 fans at Frost Arena. It marks the first time in the last six meetings in Brookings where the Jackrabbits defeated their northern conference foe.

“We were good defensively tonight and when we’re good defensively, we’re hard to beat,” SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said.

The array of superlatives in the win is vast. The Jackrabbits had three turnovers Wednesday night, easily a season-low and it marks the first time since 2003-04 the Jackrabbits swept the regular season against the Bison.

Wolters had 22 points in the first half and finished the game with 30 points on 14-of-18 shooting and finding a level of red hot play that is rare even by his standards.

“I played pretty well and hit some jump shots. I had been struggling with my jump shot and that helps and got into a good flow,” Wolters said.

The Bison struggled to take care of the ball. SDSU gained 17 points off of 11 NDSU turnovers and the Jacks took the ball away a total of 16 times.

“You have no chance to survive a performance like that if you’re giving up layups in transition,” Bison head coach Saul Phillips said.

Coupled with the first half performance of Wolters and 12 points from Jordan Dykstra, the Jackrabbits constructed a 43-24 lead at halftime, placing the Bison on the long list of Summit League foes that have found no answer for SDSU in the first half at Frost this season. Wolters added eight more and found a spot on the bench, recording just 28 minutes and watching the reserves close the game out.

NDSU’s Lawrence Alexander led the Bison with 20 points but was sidelined for much of the first half with two early fouls. A freshman making his first appearance in the close quarters of SDSU’s home, Phillips said he was a little rattled.

“Don’t underestimate the newness of coming into a place like Frost, in this environment, in this rivalry, for a kid that’s seeing it in the first half. It’s going to happen. Unfortunately, it happened in a way where we weren’t able to recover,” Phillips said.

SDSU now has at least the number-two seed in the Summit League tournament locked up. Nagy won’t let his team coast for the next few weeks.

“If you wait until then, you won’t be able to turn it back on. We have to keep it on and every game we play now has to be directed toward what we want to be able to do in the end,” he said.

Now the focus turns to Saturday’s home game against Buffalo, who entered the day fourth in the nation in rebounds per game. The Jacks finished the game minus-12 in rebounding margin against the Bison, the one area that SDSU was not very good in. That will be the emphasis for SDSU heading into their nationally-televised BracketBusters game this weekend.

“I think Saturday will help [elevate SDSU’s play], playing in an ESPN game and our players should be excited about that. If that doesn’t excite them, nothing will,” Nagy said.