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Jackrabbits Push Win Streak to Six, Overcome Slow Start to Win at Western Illinois

It wasn’t pretty, but South Dakota State moved its win streak to six, thanks to a big second half from Jordan Dykstra, turning a halftime deficit into a 62-50 win at Western Illinois Saturday night.

The senior forward scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, as SDSU moved into sole possession of second place in the Summit League, one game behind the Jacks’ next opponent, North Dakota State.

The Jackrabbit defense was hoping to find an answer for Western Illinois’ freshman phenom Garret Covington, after he scored 24 points against them in the first meeting, and the SDSU defense did limit Covington to just two shots and two points in the first half. He finished the game with 12 on 3-of-10 shooting.

But Mike Miklusak picked up the scoring slack with five quick points to start the game, while the Jacks started 1-of-5 from the field, with no offensive rebounds, and Western Illinois led by three four minutes in.

South Dakota State finally got something going offensively as Jordan Dykstra and Cody Larson each hit two-pointers, while Zach Horstman and Jake Bittle added 3-pointers to key a 10-2 SDSU run, and a five point Jackrabbit lead.

Western’s defense gave SDSU fits at times in the first half, with six steals leading to seven Jackrabbit turnovers.

The lead was three in the final four minutes of the half when Miklusak got hot again, with another five point spurt, and the Leathernecks led 24-23 at halftime. Miklusak finished the first half 4-of-5 from the floor with 10 points.  Bittle and Larson each had seven for the Jacks.

Neither team shot 40 percent in the first 20 minutes.  SDSU was plus-five on the boards, not allowing WIU a single offensive rebound.

In the second half, Dykstra got things going for the Jackrabbits.  Just 1-of-3 in the first half for four points, hit three of his first five in the second half, as SDSU shot 51 percent in the first eight minutes, opening up an eight point lead. Dykstra finished with 13 rebounds to go with his 20 points, good for his 18th career double-double.

Bittle added 18 points, Larson 11.  The Jackrabbits shot just 37 percent from the floor, but outrebounded WIU 44-27, limiting the Leathernecks to just four offensive rebounds, and 27 percent shooting in the second half.

SDSU took much better care of the ball in the second half, turning it over just three times.

South Dakota State (16-10/8-3) is off until they travel to first place North Dakota State next Saturday.

SUMMIT LEAGUE MEN: USD 71 IUPUI 67

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