South Dakota State fends off Omaha in Summit tournament men's opener
Jackrabbits win 19th in a row on Saturday
SIOUX FALLS -- The No. 1 seed in the Summit League tournament’s men’s bracket took care of business on Saturday night.
Eighth-seeded Omaha matched wits with the Jackrabbits for most of the first half but South Dakota State kept the Mavericks at bay in the second 20 minutes to advance to Monday’s semifinals 87-79 at the Premier Center.
Summit League player of the year Baylor Scheierman had 20 points, as did senior Douglas Wilson and SDSU outscored Omaha, 25-6, among bench players from there, with nine points each from Luke Appel and Matt Dentlinger.
The Jackrabbits (28-4), who were perfect in Summit League regular season play, have now won 19 games in a row, which was tied with Murray State for the nation’s longest active win streak after the Jacks’ win. SDSU will face either No. 4 Kansas City or No. 5 South Dakota on Monday night in the conference semifinals.
For a while, the five-win Mavericks (5-25) looked like they might be capable of a Summit spoiler to SDSU’s championship dreams once again, scoring 42 points in the first half, with many of them on the back of Omaha’s Frankie Fidler. The freshman from Bellevue, Neb., had 22 points on 7-for-11 shooting for the Mavericks. Omaha led by six points at the midway point of the first half, but SDSU closed to lead 48-42 at the intermission.
“There was no panic,” Scheierman said. “It was the first half and we didn’t think we were playing our best. … I’m just trying to motivate (my teammates) to do better next time.”
Fidler finished with 34 points for Omaha. Felix Lemetti was the next highest scorer of the day for Omaha with 13 points.
“This time of the year is special. At the end of the day, when we’re playing in the league that we’re in, we’re all playing, possibly our last game,” SDSU coach Eric Henderson said of the Mavericks’ effort. “And so the effort that you’re going to get from your opponent, there’s nothing to lose. It’s win or go home. The other team wants to win too, so it didn’t surprise me. … I’m proud of our guys for not panicking.”