By Jeremy Hoeck
BROOKINGS — It wasn’t a 30-point difference, but it was still rather one-sided at Frost Arena.
That’s the way this series has gone at the Division I level between South Dakota State and the University of South Dakota, home teams have ruled the day.
It was no different Thursday night, Jan. 31, in front of a sellout crowd at Frost Arena, as SDSU won its 27th straight at home thanks to a 67-54 Summit League men’s victory over the rival Coyotes.
“It’s definitely a good feeling to just get the win. We laid an egg the last time we played them,” said SDSU junior Jordan Dykstra, who had a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Jacks (17-6, 8-2).
The last time the Coyotes (8-14, 4-6) played in Brookings, however, they were handed an 86-56 drubbing at the hands of the future conference champions.
Each of the previous meetings, both in Vermillion, were won by the Coyotes, and each of the past seven games in the series have been won by the home team.
“Obviously it helps being at home,” SDSU senior Nate Wolters, who finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, said. “We came out with energy, started strong, but had to withstand their runs.”
There was an early sign Thursday that it could be another long night for the visitors in red, but the Coyotes survived a slow start and made incremental improvements — namely, a new wrinkle in the matchup zone defense — in this South Dakota Showdown Series.
“We handled it a lot better than last year,” USD senior Jordan Boos said. “Having that new defense really helped us a little bit with (Nate) Wolters on the top. They hit some shots right away, but our defense shored up after a while.”
Where as last year’s meeting in Brookings was more of a collective, all-around frustration, the Coyotes were hurt most Thursday by 17 turnovers that led directly to 15 Jackrabbit points.
In short, if not for those, the 13-point margin of defeat could have been a lot different.
“That was a combination of mental errors on our part, and they played some really good defense, you have to give them a lot of credit,” USD freshman Casey Kasperbauer said. “On the other hand, we can definitely cut down on our turnovers.”
The opening seven minutes were a direct copy of last season’s meeting in Brookings, with the Jacks jumping out in front 21-7 with a string of 3’s.
SDSU’s margin — thanks to seven 3’s in the first half — again reached 14 before the Coyotes surged to a 13-4 run to get within 32-27 at the 2:38 mark.
Up 36-27 at halftime, the Jackrabbits started the second half with an 18-6 run to pull in front 50-33.
The Coyotes later reeled off six straight points to climb within 55-44 — the closest they would get — before the hosts eventually built a 22-point cushion.
“We certainly played better than we did a year ago,” USD coach Dave Boots said. “I was proud of the way our guys played. They’re very good; they’re hard to guard, and they can all shoot it.”
Even though the Jackrabbits had edges in made three-pointers (9-5), rebounds (36-31) and second-chance points (13-7), they weren’t entirely thrilled with the final stretch of the game.
“It just didn’t feel like we could pull away from them. They did a good job and we didn’t finish well,” SDSU coach Scott Nagy said.
While the Jackrabbits will look to continue the nation’s third-longest Division I home win streak Saturday against Kansas City, the Coyotes are headed to Fargo with not very fond memories of playing the Bison.
Last season’s meeting in Fargo was a 23-point difference and the game a month ago in Vermillion was a 26-point margin.
“We definitely have a to change some things form last time; have to focus on our defense going into Saturday,” Jordan Boots said. “Hopefully we can change it around.”
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S. DAKOTA ST. 67, S. DAKOTA 54
S. DAKOTA (8-14)
Gruis 1-2 1-5 3, Tecker 2-2 0-0 4, Myles 2-10 2-2 6, Bos 3-9 1-1 7, Kasperbauer 6-8 0-0 15, Boots 2-4 1-1 6, Rowson 2-2 0-1 4, Flack 1-3 0-0 2, Robertson 3-5 0-0 7. Totals 22-45 5-10 54.
S. DAKOTA ST. (17-6)
Fiegen 4-7 3-5 11, Dykstra 6-16 4-4 18, Wolters 6-14 3-4 19, Carlson 2-7 0-0 6, White 4-9 2-2 11, Prince 0-3 0-0 0, Jacobsen 0-0 0-0 0, Horstman 0-1 0-0 0, Heemstra 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 23-61 12-15 67.
Halftime—S. Dakota St. 36-27. 3-Point Goals—S. Dakota 5-14 (Kasperbauer 3-4, Boots 1-1, Robertson 1-3, Myles 0-2, Bos 0-4), S. Dakota St. 9-22 (Wolters 4-8, Dykstra 2-4, Carlson 2-5, White 1-4, Horstman 0-1). Fouled Out—Flack. Rebounds—S. Dakota 31 (Flack 6), S. Dakota St. 36 (Dykstra 14). Assists—S. Dakota 10 (Myles 3), S. Dakota St. 13 (Carlson, White, Wolters 3). Total Fouls—S. Dakota 16, S. Dakota St. 15. A—6,130.