Summit League Men’s Tournament: South Dakota State Back to Championship, Beats Fort Wayne
A red hot second half has South Dakota State back in the Summit League Championship, after a 72-56 win over Fort Wayne in Monday's Semifinals.
For the third time this year, the Jacks need a rally to down the Mastodons, as Fort Wayne wasted no time putting the SDSU on their heels, reeling off the first ten points of the game.
Frank Gaines was unstoppable early in this one. The senior with three three-pointers and 12 points in the first ten minutes, as the Mastodons built an 12-point lead.
They maintained that advantage for much of the half with physical play and tough defense. South Dakota State turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, one more than the Jacks Summit League average per game. Fort Wayne finished the first half with seven steals.
But Nate Wolters and Chad White helped bring the Jacks back with 19 of SDSU's first 23 points, and South Dakota was back within four at 25-23, in part because the Jacks kept Fort Wayne without a field goal for more than four minutes.
The Jacks did grab a brief lead at 32-31, but Gaines' fourth three of the half gave the Mastodons a 34-32 halftime lead. Gaines finished with 17 of his 25 points in the first half.
South Dakota State found their shooting touch in the second half, hitting four straight three's, and seven of their first ten shots overall to go on a 22-11 run in the first 8:30 to take a 54-45 lead.
That advantage jumped to 15 three minutes later, as Jordan Dykstra, who was scoreless in the first half, pumped in eight, and all of the sudden it was 63-48 SDSU.
Overall in the second half, the Jacks shot 67 percent, and an even more robust 7-of-10 from three.
Nate Wolters finished with 18 points and 12 assists, Chad White had 17, including four three's, and Tony Fiegen had 16.
South Dakota State will play for their second straight Summit League Tournament championship Tuesday night against either North Dakota State or Western Illinois.