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SDSU men clipped in overtime in season-opening loss at Akron

Jackrabbits come up one point short in season debut on the road

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South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
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AKRON, Ohio — Akron won a battle of 2021 NCAA tournament qualifiers with an 81-80 triumph over South Dakota State in overtime on Monday night at Rhoades Arena.

SDSU led by as many as eight points in the first half and took a six-point edge, 41-35, into the halftime break. The Zips eventually trimmed the deficit as the two sides battled back and forth throughout the second half. A Matt Dentlinger layup provided the Jacks a 66-61 advantage with 3:18 remaining. The lead lasted just over two minutes before an Enrique Freeman dunk and Xavier Castaneda 3-pointer tied the margin at 68 with 1:10 to play.

A Zeke Mayo layup put SDSU ahead again, 70-68, but two free throws by Castaneda tied it with 26 seconds on the clock. Despite having a chance for the final shot of regulation, SDSU was fortunate to get the chance at the extra session after Akron's Greg Tribble had a last-second steal in regulation but missed a wide-open layup as the buzzer sounded to leave the game tied at 70.

Akron led 80-76 late in the overtime period but back-to-back steals and scores from Mayo and Alex Arians tied the game at 80 with 16 seconds left. On the ensuing Akron possession, Tribble drew a foul under the basket and made a free throw with 2 seconds left. The second shot missed, leaving SDSU to try a 65-footer as the horn sounded that missed.

Five Jackrabbits finished the contest in double figures scoring led by Dentlinger's 15 points. Arians had a team-high six assists for the Jacks who were just 4 of 15 from 3-point range while Akron made 11 treys on the night.

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Akron's Castaneda was the game's leading scorer with 31 points on 9 of 14 shooting and he also distributed nine assists. Freeman contributed with a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Zips.

SDSU stays on the road and will play at Boise State at 8 p.m. Central on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

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