Men’s Basketball: SDSU 80 IPFW 74
Thursday was a very good day for South Dakota State's Nate Wolters.
During the day, the senior from St. Cloud, MN found out he was the Summit League's Athlete of the Month for January and was one of 12 finalists for the Bob Cousy award, which is given to the top point guard in the country each year. Thursday night, Wolters showed the nation why he's so worthy of all the accolades.
In the highest scoring individual performance so far in college basketball this season, Wolters poured in a school-record 53 points to trigger an 80-74 comeback win for South Dakota State at Fort Wayne.
Wolters hit 17 of his 28 shots, including nine of 14 from behind the three-point arc, and added ten more points from the free throw line to shatter the Jacks all-time single game scoring mark of 44 points, set by Dave Thomas back in 1973.
The Jacks senior overshadowed a great performance from one of the Summit League's other top players, Fort Wayne's Frank Gaines. Gaines was 11-of-22 from the floor, with five three-pointers, finishing with 29 points.
SDSU needed all the scoring they could get from Wolters. While he was hitting 61 percent of his shots, the rest of the lineup was nine-of-28 for just 32 percent.
The Jackrabbits came out cold in the first half, hitting just ten of their 31 shots, while giving up an 8-0 run midway through the first 20 minutes to fall behind by as many as 11 points. Wolters single-handedly kept Jacks in it with 15 team's 29 first half points, while the rest of his team was shooting 26 percent. For Fort Wayne, Gaines and Luis Jacobo (9 of 17, 24 points) led the way for a Mastodon team that shot 50 percent in the first half, including six three-pointers. Fort Wayne led 37-29 at the break.
But much like the first meeting between these two last month, when the Jacks pulled away shooting 723percent in the second half, SDSU shot the ball much better in the second half Thursday, hitting 64 percent in the second 20 minutes, to pull even with 9:09 left and take the lead for good with 1:47 to play.
South Dakota State stays atop the standings in the Summit League at 10-2. The Jacks are now deadlocked with Western Illinois, after North Dakota State fell a game off the pace with a 66-63 loss at Oakland. That's where the Jackrabbits head next, taking on the Golden Grizzlies in Rochester, MI, Saturday at 4:00pm.