BROOKINGS – David Jenkins scored the Jackrabbits’ final 10 points as South Dakota State held off a high-quality Grand Canyon squad 79-74 in an intense season-opening men’s basketball game Tuesday night at Frost Arena.
The sophomore finished with a game-high 31 points, helping SDSU push its home winning streak to 21 games. Mike Daum posted a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Jenkins hit a contested 3 from the left wing as the shot clock neared zero to put the home team ahead 72-65 with 1:25 remaining. After the Antelopes’ Carlos Johnson scored in the paint, Jenkins again connected from deep to make it 75-67 with 1:09 showing on the clock.
GCU hung around down the stretch.
Alessandro Lever converted a traditional 3-point play with 30 seconds to go, and Tim Fenke stole the ensuing inbounds pass and set up Gerard Martin’s layup that cut the deficit to 75-72 with 26 seconds left.
Jenkins hit a pair of foul shots with 19 seconds to play and, following a pair of free throws from Johnson on the other end, hit two more clutch tosses with 4 seconds remaining to seal the deal.
“I’m really excited for our guys; that’s a great team,” said SDSU coach T.J. Otzelberger. “They’re a well-coached team; a team with a lot of toughness; a team with a lot of good players – they’re going to win a lot of games this year.
“I felt like that was a big-time, high-level college game; great atmosphere. I’m just proud of our guys, how they came out and finished that game as a group. Certainly, there was a point there where it wasn’t going quite as well as we would have liked down the stretch, but they rallied when we needed to – had some big rebounds, made some free throws down the stretch.
“Obviously, I can’t say enough about the gutty shots David Jenkins made to ensure victory late.”
A back-and-forth first half ended with the Jackrabbits on top 38-36.
GCU was up by two points early in the second, when SDSU rattled off an 9-0 spurt – Daum scored in the paint, Matt Dentlinger dunked, Tevin King hit a jumper and Skyler Flatten buried a 3-ball – to move ahead 52-45 with 14:54 to go.
Later, SDSU appeared to take control after going on a 9-1 run.
Daum and Jenkins converted back-to-back buckets, before the Antelopes’ Trey Drechsel hit a free throw. King answered with a layup and Flatten hit another trey to make it 69-56 with 5:15 remaining.
However, GCU countered with nine straight points to pull within 69-65.
Lever and Johnson both went 2-for-2 at the stripe, before Drechsel canned a 3. Johnson added two more foul shots with 3:35 to go.
Jenkins answered on the other end after that, as SDSU opened the year with a victory.
“Obviously we’re disappointed with the loss, but this is a great test for our team coming here to face a really, really good team that doesn’t lose on this floor,” said GCU coach “Thunder” Dan Majerle, a three-time (1992, 1993, 1995) NBA All-Star with the Phoenix Suns who scored 10,925 points in 14 seasons in the Association. “They’re very well-coached. Obviously with the players they have with Daum and Jenkins, it was a mighty test for us.
“So I’m disappointed, but I’m encouraged with my team. I have some new guys that I got a first look at in a regular season game. We have a lot of work to do, but I think we’re going to be pretty good.
“This was just a good college basketball game. We hung in there; they dominated us on the boards and they were more aggressive taking it to the basket. We relied on the 3 a little bit too much but we are a very good shooting team – we didn’t show it tonight. So 34 3s is probably a little too many, but we can shoot it. … I’m not going to sit up here and say it was too many 3s, because we’ve been knocking them down, we just have to have a good mixture of taking the ball to the basket. In the second half, we were a little bit more aggressive.
“But it was a good first team. I’m disappointed we lost but that’s a good team.”
SDSU held a 48-35 advantage on the glass and shot 48.3 percent (28-of-58) from the field. GCU shot just 34.3 percent (24-of-70) but forced 16 turnovers.
Dentlinger finished with 11 points and seven boards. King grabbed 12 rebounds and scored six points. Flatten had nine points.
For the Antelopes, Drechsel and Johnson both had 17 points and Finke added 10. Lever – the WAC Preseason Player of the Year – totaled nine markers.
South Dakota State is host to Alabama State on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“Brandon Key has been dealing with a personal matter and as a result, he’s going to redshirt this season,” Otzelberger said of the senior point guard, who was not on the bench for Tuesday’s game or Thursday’s exhibition, to open the postgame press conference. “He’ll remain enrolled at SDSU; he’s going to focus his efforts on his academics and his graduation in May. We’re going to continue to support Brandon moving forward in that endeavor, and that’s really all I have to say regarding that matter. Like I said, it’s a personal matter.”
It was a Summit-WAC Challenge game. … SDSU’s starters – Daum (39), Flatten (37), Dentlinger (36), King (36) and Jenkins (36) – combined to play 184 of the 200 minutes. They also combined for 77 of the 79 points.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 79, GRAND CANYON 74
Grand Canyon (0-1)
Alessandro Lever 3-7 3-3 9, Michael Finke 4-9 0-0 10, Trey Drechsel 6-16 1-2 17, Oscar Frayer 2-8 4-5 9, Carlos Johnson 5-12 6-6 17, Matt Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Damari Milstead 2-8 1-2 5, Roberts Blumbergs 0-5 0-0 0, Tim Finke 0-1 0-0 0, Gerard Martin 2-4 2-2 7. Totals 24-70 17-20 74.
South Dakota State (1-0)
Mike Daum 9-20 1-3 20, Matt Dentlinger 4-5 3-6 11, Skyler Flatten 3-8 1-2 9, Tevin King 3-6 0-0 6, David Jenkins 8-16 11-15 31, Alou Dillon 1-3 0-0 2, Owen King 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Arians 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-58 16-26 79.
Halftime – SDSU 38-36. 3-point goals – GCU 9-34 (Drechsel 4-9, M. Finke 2-6, Martin 1-1, Frayer 1-4, Johnson 1-4, Lever 0-2, Milstead 0-3, Blumbergs 0-5), SDSU 7-17 (Jenkins 4-7, Flatten 2-5, Daum 1-3, King 0-1, Dillon 0-1). Rebounds – GCU 35 (Frayer 8), SDSU 48 (Daum 13, King 12). Assists – GCU 8 (Drechsel 4), SDSU 8 (Daum 4). Steals – GCU 9 (Drechsel 2); SDSU 3 (Daum, Flatten, King). Blocks – GCU 4 (Frayer 3), SDSU 4 (Flatten 2). Turnovers – GCU 6, SDSU 16. Total fouls – GCU 21, SDSU 19. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none. A – 1,933.