SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (SDSU) – The South Dakota State men’s basketball team opened the season Wednesday evening, falling to No. 15 West Virginia 79-71 in the opening round of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic.
It marked the first of three games in as many days for SDSU inside the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” head coach Eric Henderson said. “Our guys are tough, and it had to be all five guys. They are as physical of a team as we’ll play all year. We battled in the first half, but I thought we let some things get away in the second half that made the difference. We’ll continue to fight and we’ll get better, I’ll promise you that.”
Douglas Wilson led the Jackrabbit scoring attack with 17 points. Noah Freidel added 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Baylor Scheierman tossed in 15 and Matt Dentlinger contributed 10 points and seven rebounds.
The first half was a seesaw affair that featured eight lead changes and three ties. SDSU unfurled a 12-3 run, capped by Wilson’s three-point play, that gave the Jacks their largest lead, 19-14, at the 10:27 mark of the first.
West Virginia surged ahead thanks to Miles McBride, who led all scorers with 23 points, and led by as many as seven. Noah Freidel fed Wilson on an alley-oop to close the first half, with the Jacks trailing 37-32 at the break.
A Wilson free throw and Dentlinger turnaround brought the Jacks within two, 37-35, in the opening minute of the second stanza. That is as close at State would come, however, as the Mountaineers countered with a 9-0 run and maintained a multi-possession lead until the final horn.
The Jacks did make one final run. Down nine at the four minute mark, Baylor Scheierman hit a pair of free throws. Wilson added a bucket at the rim and moments later converted one-of-two at the line, drawing SDSU within four with 1:50 left. West Virginia scored the next six points, however, to salt away the victory.
Charlie Easley and Luke Appel both played their first games as Jackrabbits and each finished with two points.
Freidel tied his career high with eight rebounds.
Scheierman logged 36 minutes, the most of his Jackrabbit tenure.
SDSU committed 14 turnovers to West Virginia’s three. The Mountaineers capitalized, racking up a 17-7 advantage on points off turnovers.
South Dakota State is scheduled to face Utah State in the second consolation semifinal of the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.