BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — Sophomore Zeke Mayo scored 15 points in the final five minutes of play to help propel South Dakota State to a 71-64 victory over Western Illinois on Thursday, Dec. 29, in Summit League men’s basketball at Frost Arena. 

The Jackrabbits led by as many as 13 in the second half, but the Leathernecks clawed their way back into the matchup. Western Illinois used a 15-2 run in a nearly five-minute span to take their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Mayo knotted the game at 54 with just over eight minutes remaining, however WIU responded by taking a 61-56 lead and forcing the Jackrabbits to take a timeout with 5:19 left. 

That’s when Mayo took over offensively. 

Mayo connected on a jumper and followed it by draining consecutive 3-pointers to put SDSU ahead 64-61 with 3:49 to play. A pair of steals by Alex Arians and Matthew Mors kept the Leathernecks off the board as Mayo banked in a shot just outside the paint, then he sealed the contest with a stepback 3-pointer with less than 20 seconds on the clock. Western Illinois’ Quinlan Bennett hit a 3 on their ensuing possession, but a set of free throws by Mayo closed out the conference meeting in Brookings. 

“Just like the the Eastern Washington game, we were down and my instincts kind of kicked in,” Mayo said. “The coaches and guys trust me to make plays and I took advantage at the end.”

Mayo scored SDSU’s final 15 points of the evening and was responsible for 13 straight points in the game between the two sides. He finished the contest with a career-high 33 points on 11 of 21 shooting (4-for-9 from 3). 

“He enjoys those moments, and especially in this building, he’s been pretty significant at it,” Henderson said of Mayo’s late-game performance. “They were pretty spread out, so we wanted to space the floor and give Zeke a little bit of room to work and obviously he was terrific. Defensively we were pretty good down the stretch as well.”

The Jacks also featured double-digit scorers in Matthew Mors (12) and Matt Dentlinger (10). Dentlinger had a team-high nine rebounds. 

SDSU’s Matt Mims played a career-high 39 minutes and kept Western Illinois leading scorer Trenton Massner to 6 of 19 from the field. Massner finished with 15 points joining Bennett with 15, while Elijah Farr led Western Illinois with 16.

The Jackrabbits led in the contest for over 24 minutes compared to the 10 minutes the Leathernecks had the advantage. SDSU outshot Western Illinois 50-32% and led 39-29 at halftime. The Leathernecks battled back by hitting five 3-pointers in the second half and forcing seven SDSU turnovers. Both teams shot over 88% from the free throw line. SDSU finished with a 36-28 edge in rebounding. 

Notes

  • South Dakota State earned its first Summit League victory of the season improving its record to 1-1 (6-8 overall). Western Illinois fell to 8-5 overall and 1-1 in conference play. 
  • The Jackrabbits improved to 33-5 all-time against the Leathernecks and 18-0 at home in the series. 
  • Mayo’s 33-point effort topped his previous best of 30 he set in a Dec. 10 victory over Eastern Washington. 
  • Mors’s 12 points represented his third double-digit scoring performance of his college career and first in Frost Arena. 

Up Next
South Dakota State continues its Summit League home slate on Saturday at 2 p.m. when the Jackrabbits host St. Thomas in Frost Arena.