IUPUI’s post-season hopes were shot down on Saturday night as the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits ended the Jag’s season, defeating IUPUI 77-56.
In a game being held in the Sioux Falls Arena, just an hour’s drive from Brookings, the Jackrabbits proved why they’re one of the Summit League Tournament favorites. The pro-SDSU crowd set a new attendance record for the Summit League Tournament, selling out the arena and providing a crowd of 6,614 fans.
The Jackrabbits started the game on a 6-2 run and never slowed down, holding the lead for the entire 40 minutes. IUPUI was able to draw the lead to within one point early on in the game thanks to an Alex Young three-point play, which put the score at 13-12. That became one of the few highlights of the IUPUI senior’s night as he finished with just 10 points, 11 less than his season average.
“Tonight they wouldn’t let me come off on my strong hand, and if I got around the first guy they had a second guy ready. They really got me out of my rhythm,” Young said of South Dakota’s defensive game plan.
Young went just 3-14 from the field and 1-5 from the three-point arc on the evening. Throughout the night Young was forced to take unattractive shots or try to get the ball to a teammate against the stifling SDSU defense.
“When (Alex) had the ball we were packing it in and making some of their other guys hit shots,” SDSU’s Tony Fiegen said.
Unfortunately for the Jags, no one else could get hot. Senior Christian Siakam was shooting 62.6 per cent and averaging 11.2 points per game heading into Saturday night’s clash, but again the Jackrabbit defense had an answer for him. Siakam finished the night with just two points and two rebounds.
“Impact in the paint on the drive really clogged things up for him,” head coach Todd Howard mentioned. “The angles weren’t there to find him in a high-low setting, which is what we wanted.”
By the time the game had reached half-time the Jackrabbits had extended their lead to 12 points and led by a score of 40-28.
“I thought we didn’t close the half out well. We had some opportunities that could have helped us coming out in the second,” Howard added.
The Jackrabbits were led by Summit League standout Nate Wolters, who finished the evening with a game high 22 points on 9-18 shooting, adding seven rebounds, six assists, and five steals in 37 minutes of action.
“On defense we got them really spread out, which makes it a lot easier for me to penetrate and find an open guy,” Wolters said on his performance Saturday night.
Wolters also didn’t play down the effect of the obviously overwhelming number of SDSU fans in the arena.
“Tonight definitely felt like a home game, the crowd was great,” he mentioned.
SDSU head coach Scott Nagy quickly chimed in, quipping, “Don’t say that, they won’t let us have it here anymore.”
Throughout the entire second half IUPUI was unable to get the Jackrabbit lead into single digits. Freshman Ian Chiles was the bright spot for the Jags as he finished the night with 15 points and four assists. Chiles, recently named to the Summit League All-Newcomer Team, logged the most minutes for IUPUI, only sitting for less than a minute in the first half.
For IUPUI seniors Siakam, Young and Stephen Thomas, the trip out to Sioux Falls will be their last in a Jaguar uniform.
“It is disappointing,” Young added, “But I’ve had a chance to play in a championship and won a few games in the tournament. I’m proud of my four years at IUPUI. I definitely look at it as a success.”