BROOKINGS, S.D. (UND Athletics) – South Dakota State used a 27-5 run during the closing minutes of the first half to distance itself from North Dakota in an eventual 87-66 victory on Wednesday night from Frost Arena in Brookings.
The run, which started with the game tied at 18, saw the Jackrabbits (14-7, 5-1 Summit League) build a 20-point advantage late in that first stanza to hand UND (8-11, 2-3 Summit League) its 17th straight loss at Frost and seventh overall in the series.
It was the post play and foul trouble that defined the contest according to UND head coach Paul Sather, as Douglas Wilson (22), Alou Dillon (12), and Matt Dentlinger (7) combined to shoot 17-for-25 from the field and 41 points to pace the Jackrabbits inside the paint. As a team, SDSU outscored the Hawks, 46-40, in the painted area.
Fouls also plagued the Hawks throughout most of the game, with Filip Rebraca, Kienan Walter, Billy Brown, and Gertautas Urbonavicius all hitting the four-foul mark.
Marlon Stewart and De’Sean Allen-Eikens tried to will the visitors back in the second half, each striking for double figures over the final 20 minutes. Stewart, the conference’s leading scorer and assist man entering the night, finished with 17 points, including 13 in the second half and seven rebounds, but was held to just three assists. Allen-Eikens poured in 12 of his 14 over the final stanza to mark his 17th game with at least 10 points this season.
Walter was the final Fighting Hawk in double figures with 15 points on 6-of-13 from the field. The senior hit two of UND’s made threes on the evening to hit 30 on the season.
After a slow start shooting from the field, South Dakota State responded to finish exactly 50% (30-of-60) from the field while holding North Dakota to just 41.1% (23-of-56). Three-point shooting also proved to be the difference, with SDSU hitting six of its 18 attempts and UND struggling from beyond the arc at 3-of-16.
UND won the battle on the boards, 37-33, but SDSU controlled the bench points, 27-8, and the turnover battle, 13-9.
North Dakota came out strong to start the contest, with Rebraca providing the offense and strong rebounding. The sophomore hit three of his four shots, and collected the board on the shot he missed, to help give UND a 9-8 advantage at the first media timeout.
The defense was there for the Hawks as well, holding the Jackrabbits to just two of their first 15 shots from the field, including a 1-for-5 mark from distance. UND used that 4:50 scoring drought by the hosts to build a 13-8 lead with just under 11 minutes to play in the opening half.
South Dakota State started to find its groove on offense over the next few minutes. The Jacks struck for 15 straight points over a two-minute span to turn the deficit into a 29-18 lead with 5:41 to play in the first half. Over that span, the hosts hit seven consecutive shots from the field and converted a trio of three-point plays to spark the run.
Walter finally halted the run at 18 straight for the Jacks with a triple, but it was only a temporary stoppage to the offensive onslaught by the hosts. SDSU struck for 27 of 32 points over a stretch of seven minutes to push the advantage to as high as 20 late in the first half.
Facing a big deficit on the road in a hostile environment, UND came out with some spunk to open the second half of action. The Hawks struck for 12 of the frame’s first 14 points, capped off by a Walter triple in transition, to cut the lead to just eight, 45-37, less than four minutes into the stanza.
UND kept up the pressure through the opening 10 minutes of the second half, chipping the lead down to as few as six, 52-46, with Walter and Allen-Eikens doing most of the damage in the run for the visitors.
South Dakota State weathered the push, however, pushing its advantage back to 14, 66-52, with just over eight minutes to play. The Jacks held off any late spurt from the visitors to claim their 17th straight win over the Fighting Hawks at Frost Arena by an 87-66 score.
North Dakota returns to action on Saturday afternoon in Fargo against North Dakota State at 2:30 p.m. from the Sanford Health and Athletic Complex.