BROOKINGS – It wasn’t pretty, but the South Dakota State men’s basketball team came away with its 22nd-straight victory at home Friday night when they came back to beat Denver 90-78.
SDSU jumped out to 9-2 lead early in the first half and looked they were on their way to a blowout victory. But Denver, who came into the game in last place in the Summit League with a record of 5-20 and 1-11 in conference, fought back. The Pioneers then went on a 7-0 run to tie the game.
The Jacks led 20-17 with 12:45 and SDSU forward Douglas Wilson picked up his second foul of the game. This was the turning point of the first half as Denver proceeded to go on a 12-4 run to take their first lead of the game. The Jacks fought back and tied the game 36-36 and Denver hit a three at the buzzer to give them the lead at halftime.
“In the first half, obviously we struggled a little bit, but I think a lot had to do with just the flow. There was 25 fouls called in the half and we didn’t have quite as much energy as they did. They outrebounded us by 12 in the first half and played a lot harder than us,” SDSU head coach Eric Henderson said.
SDSU was still came out a little sluggish in the beginning of the second half. They tied the game five minutes into the second half and kept it around that mark for around three minutes. That’s when the game changed.
SDSU went on a 12-2 run to give them a 68-57 lead with 8:20 left in the game. The Jacks didn’t look back after that and eased their way to their fifth-straight win overall.
“Our guys really responded in the second half and we ended up tying them on the glass and that was a big part of how we were able to come back and have a good second half,” Henderson said.
The Jacks shot 50% from the field in the second half, compared to 41.38% in the first half. They outrebounded the Pioneers 26-14 in the second half. SDSU did damage at the free throw line during the game ads they were 25-31.
Henderson said his team was calm at halftime even though they were trailing to a team that they were much better than record-wise.
“Our guys this time of year, I feel like we have a pretty good identity or understanding of our identity. They’re pretty comfortable with it and they’re not going to panic. Even though we’re young and we’re inexperienced, our guys play with some purpose. So I was really proud of the resiliency to be able to bounce back from that first half and continue to stick with the game plan,” he said.
SDSU (19-8, 10-2) was led by Wilson who had 23 points and eight rebounds. Matt Dentlinger finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Noah Freidel scored 16 points, all of which came in the second half. He also had eight assists and seven rebounds.
“I felt like [Freidel almost willed himself into it. He was able to get into rhythm with a couple of transition three’s. But I’ll tell you what, he’s been a horse defensively the last couple weeks too. He’s had to guard the other team’s best player and he’s done a really good job doing that. He’s really competing and impacting the game in other ways and I know he’s maybe looked at as just a scorer right now, but he’s such a willing passer and knows how to play,” Henderson said.
Ade Murkey, who was averaging 16.4 points per game heading into tonight, scored a career-high 42 points for Denver. Murkey also had a career-high 11 rebounds and two steals.
“Wow. [Murkey] really had a special night and we had four or five different guys guarding him to be real honest with you, so they each had a try at it,” Henderson said.
SDSU is now 19-8 overall and 10-2 in the Summit League with four games left in the regular season. The Jacks sit atop the Summit League as they have a tiebreaker with North Dakota State, who is also 10-2, because they beat the Bison earlier this season. South Dakota sits right behind SDSU and NDSU at 9-3 in the conference.
The Jackrabbits final four games play out like this: They host Purdue Fort Wayne at 2 p.m. on Sunday, then travel to North Dakota on Feb. 19th before hosting South Dakota on Feb. 23rd. The Jacks will then close out the regular season in Fargo against NDSU on Feb. 27th.
SDSU controls their own destiny when it comes to winning the Summit League regular season title. If they win out, they win the conference. It’s as simple as that.
“I think we’re pretty aware of where everybody is at,” Henderson said. “That’s the fun of it. That’s the enjoyment of basketball or any team sport, sports in general. You want to be in the thick of things and you want to be able to give yourself a chance and at the end of the day [SDSU, NDSU and USD] still have destiny in their own hands. That’s the beautiful part about this and the remaining schedule is going to be fun.”
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 90, DENVER 78
Denver (1-11, 5-21)
Ade Murkey 15-27 7-7 42, Jase Townsend 6-15 0-0 14, Robert Jones 3-5 1-2 7, Roscoe Eastmond 2-7 0-0 5, Taelyr Gatlin 1-5 2-2 4, Alperen Kurnaz 1-5 1-2 4, Javonni Bickham 0-0 2-2 2, Tristan Green 0-1 0-0 0, David Nzekwesi 0-1 0-0 0, Khlalil 0-0 0-0 0, Owen McGlashan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-66 13-15 78.
South Dakota State (19-8, 10-2)
Douglas Wilson 8-11 7-10 23, Matt Dentlinger 8-15 6-8 22, Noah Freidel 4-13 6-6 16, David Wingett 3-8 0-0 8, Matt Mims 2-5 2-2 7, Baylor Scheierman 2-4 2-2 6, Alex Arians 2-6 0-0 4, Brandon Key 1-2 2-2 4, Alou Dillon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-65 25-31 90.
Halftime – 39-36 DU. 3-point field goals – DEN 9-25 (Murkey 5-7, Townsend 2-6, Kurnaz 1-3, Eastmond 1-5, Green 0-1), SDSU 5-18 (Wingett 2-3, Mims 1-3, Freidel 2-7, Key 0-1, Scheierman 0-2, Arians 0-2). Rebounds – DEN 40 (Murkey 11), SDSU 40 (Dentlinger 1). Assists – DEN 11 (Jones 3), SDSU 19 (Freidel 8). Steals – DEN 4 (Murkey, Gatlin 2), SDSU 7 (Scheierman 3). Blocks – DEN 2 (Murkey, Jones), SDSU 6 (Wilson 3). Turnovers – DEN 15, SDSU 8. Total fouls – DEN 26, SDSU 17. Fouled out – DEN Gatlin. Technical fouls – DEN team. A – 2,242.