Not only did Nate Wolters become the first Jackrabbit in history to score 2,000 career points, but South Dakota State also handed Western Illinois its first Summit League loss and snapped the Fighting Leathernecks 11 game winning streak on Saturday with a 59-53 win.
"I thought our kids were so relaxed, we did a great job when they hit those threes early and went up 8-2, we were relaxed, we hung in there and were obviously up at the half," head coach Scott Nagy said. "I knew were in good shape then, just because I've been in these games, those huge home games, a lot of times the energy can get sucked out of you if it isn't a big blowout right away, and I think our kids did a great job of hanging in there.
The Jackrabbits improve to 14-6 overall with the win and to 5-2 in the league, Western falls to 14-4 overall and to 6-1 in the league.
The rematch of last season's Summit League Tournament Championship featured 13 lead changes and eight tie scores, with neither team leading by more than six at any point in the game. The Leathernecks led by six after a pair of early 3-pointers at 8-2, the Jacks got their first of two six point leads on a pair of Jordan Dykstra free throws with 31 seconds left in the game, and the other on a pair of Chad White charity tosses with 22 seconds left.
Down by one with 8:15 to play, Dykstra put the Jacks on top 46-44 with a 3-pointer, and although SDSU would never trail again, the Leathernecks would tie the game three more times, but never regain the lead, before the Jacks went up for good at 53-50 on a White 3-pointer with 3:02 left in the game.
Wolters, who came in 12 points shy of 2,000 for his career, led all players in the game with 22 points, and hit the milestone from the free throw line with 2:04 left in the first half.
"We're super proud of him, and obviously he feels better because when he broke the scoring record, it was in a loss," Nagy said of Wolters passing the 2,000 point mark for his career. "So I know he's happy about it, it's a tremendous accomplishment"
"I didn't even know how many points away I was," Wolters said of hitting the milestone. "It's a pretty cool accomplishment, a big win for us and we're back in the league race, so it feels good."
Wolters also added five rebounds and a game-high six assists, which gives him 579 for his career, and leaves him 27 assists shy of breaking the school record of 605.
Dykstra overcame a slow start to score 12 points in the win, 10 of them in the second half, adding six rebounds. White and Tony Fiegen both finished with 10 points, with White tying a career-high mark with nine rebounds, which led all SDSU players.
Jack Houpt led a trio of Leathernecks in double figures with 16 points. Terell Parks added 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, while Adam Link finished with 13 points in the loss.
The Jackrabbits take their three-game winning streak to Indianapolis on Saturday, when they take on the IUPUI Jaguars at 3 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. CT.
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