For the first time in a long time, SDSU was challenged at home.
They accepted the challenge by battling with Southern Utah and the Jacks pulled away to pick up a 66-56 win at home against the Thunderbirds in Summit League play on Saturday night in Brookings.
“We haven’t had too many close games at home so I think this was good for us,” Nate Wolters said, who recorded his fourth 30-point game this year with 31 against Southern Utah.
Southern Utah played a textbook first half keeping the Jacks contained on the offensive side of the ball in the first half by slowing the pace and keeping the Jackrabbits from being able to get out and run. SDSU picked up the halftime advantage when Wolters finished off a three-point play with 0.4 seconds left before the break, putting the Jackrabbits ahead, 28-25.
“These are the kinds of games that are tournament games that you’re going to have to grind it out in the half court,” Jacks coach Scott Nagy said.
The T-Birds (12-12, 7-7 Summit) gave the Jackrabbits all that they could handle in the second session and the arena sounded more like a mausoleum until the Griffan Callahan drilled a three pointer with just under 15 minutes to go to put the Jacks ahead 34-33. Minutes later, Callahan hit another three-pointer and was fouled post-shot, giving the Jackrabbits the ball again. Wolters responded for yet another three-point play to complete a six point swing, putting SDSU up for good at 42-38.
“I thought that this was a better win for us than the ORU win. They played well and they were a lot more physical than we were,” Nagy said.
The Jackrabbits got their biggest boost from Marcus Heemstra, the 6-9 sophomore who tallied a career-high nine points and helped the Jackrabbits when Tony Fiegen and Chad White found foul trouble. Griffan Callahan added 10 points for the Jackrabbits.
Now off its closest home win since the season opener Nov. 12 against Western Michigan, SDSU returns to the road next Thursday to take on in-state rival USD in Vermillion.