Defensive domination carries Jacks

Marcus Traxler

Two nights removed from one of their worst defensive performances of the year, SDSU proved that they are better than that.

In a dominant performance, the Jacks forcibly denied IPFW on the defensive end, defeating the Mastodons 74-43, on Jan. 28 at the Gates Sports Center in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Forty-three points is the fewest that a Scott Nagy coached Jackrabbits (17-6, 9-2 Summit) team has ever allowed, impressive considering the coach’s nearly 17-year career. Almost 30 years have passed since the Jackrabbits have kept a team to fewer points.

“All of the coaches were really upset with how we defended Oakland and we even knew that we did a bad job,” senior Griffan Callahan said. “We all as a team wanted to put huge emphasis on it and prove that defense and not just offense can win us games.”

An evenly-played game early, SDSU jumped out ahead to a ten point lead midway through the first half and as IPFW neared the Jackrabbits towards the break, Brayden Carlson drilled a pair of three pointers in the final seven seconds to give the Jacks a 36-23 halftime lead.

“We guarded pretty well in the first half but at some point when you can’t score, it starts to take its toll and it led to us taking some shots that were out of character for us,” IPFW head coach Tony Jasick said.

The Mastodons (10-11, 4-8 Summit) struggled badly from the field, shooting almost 33 percent and going 2 of 17 from three-point range. After struggling to rebound effectively against Oakland, the Jackrabbits performed better, cleaning the glass to a 10 rebound advantage.

“I told the players after the game that if this doesn’t convince you how important defensive rebounding is, then you’ll never be convinced,” Nagy said.

Chad White scored 15 points for the Jacks. Four other players scored at least eight points and the Jacks rolled the ‘Dons for the second straight time this year.

The win sets the table for a big weekend for the Jackrabbit men, who will have the undefeated league-leaders in Oral Roberts in Brookings on Thursday, Feb. 2. The game is absolutely crucial if SDSU has any hope of keeping their slim window open for the league’s top spot in March’s Summit League tournament.

“We’re going to have to be ready and especially after what happened down there, our guys will play a lot better,” Callahan said.