South Dakota State men explode offensively in win over Denver

Feb. 22—BROOKINGS — Much has been made this year of the parity in Summit League men's basketball, and how that parity (or, more cynically, lack of a prominent team) would make it even more imperative than usual for teams to come to the conference tournament with momentum.

South Dakota State took a big step towards building that late-season momentum on Thursday night, playing perhaps their best game of the season in a 97-70 rout over Denver at Frost Arena.

The Jackrabbits dominated early and late, jumping out to a 14-0 lead, pushing it to 27-7, then, after Denver fought back to make it a game by halftime, dominated the later stages of the game to convincingly defeat a Pioneers squad that beat SDSU 99-80 earlier this year in Colorado.

"I know we got kicked pretty good up there at their place," said Jacks coach Eric Henderson. "They got us pretty good and we needed to have more intention to start our offense from inside. I think in our last meeting we had like two post touched in the last 10 minutes of the game. We had great purpose tonight of making sure we started our possessions inside the paint and that allowed us to get some good shots."

Matt Mims had a career-high 21 points and Zeke Mayo added 20 as the Jacks shot a blistering 57 percent from the floor and made 12-of-28 3-pointers to improve to 16-12 on the year and 9-4 in Summit League action.

Denver fell to 15-14, 6-8.

"We knew we were gonna have to bring it tonight," Mims said. "Denver is a great team. We knew it was gonna be a group effort and something that would help us was playing with that energy and effort we know we're capable of. That helped us win the game."

So did defense, as SDSU held the Pioneers to 43 percent shooting and a 7-of-26 effort from deep. Summit League scoring leader Tommy Bruner had 21 points for Denver, but with a 3-of-11 effort at the line and five turnovers, the Jacks were happy with how they contained Denver's explosive guard.

"We know he's a great player and coming into this game there was some extra motivation from what he did to us when we went down there," Mayo said. "It was a team effort — it wasn't just one guy's job. He's a great player and he made some shots but I thought we did a fantastic job on him."

Charlie Easley had 15 points for SDSU while William Kyle had 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Kalen Garry added 10 points. Touko Tainamo had 22 points to lead the Pioneers.

SDSU will host St. Thomas on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Women keep rolling

The Jackrabbit women extended their winning streaks on Thursday night with a 73-65 win over Denver at Hamilton Gymnasium.

It was SDSU's 15th win in a row and their 44th consecutive Summit League regular season win. The Jacks improve to 21-5 on the year and 13-0 in conference play.

They had to work a little harder for it than they're used to, as DU trimmed a 17-point SDSU advantage down to four with 2:10 to play, but five consecutive free throws in the final minute by SDSU kept them on top.

Paige Meyer had 17 points and eight rebounds for SDSU while Mesa Byom had 16 points, eight boards, four assists and two blocked shots. Brooklyn Meyer and Madison Mathiowetz had 16 points each. Jordan Jones had 21 points to lead the Pioneers.

SDSU shot 59 percent from the floor but struggled at the free-throw line, connecting on just 15-of-27 from the stripe.