Dykstra leads Jacks to thrilling win at Denver
DENVER – South Dakota State senior Jordan Dykstra hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers and went 8 for 8 from the free throw line down the stretch to lead the Jackrabbits to a 74-73, come-from-behind win over Denver on Thursday at Magness Arena, but that hardly tells the story of this back-and-forth contest.
“I’ve had a couple of crazy finishes, I’ve obviously coached a lot of games, but this one certainly ranks up there, probably in the top-5 of great comeback victories when it looks like you’re not gonna win the game and somehow you pull it out,” head coach Scott Nagy said. “I’m proud of the kids. We struggled to get stops again, Denver shot a tremendous percentage, and I thought we guarded them pretty well, I thought we made them make tough shots and they did.”
Down 36-28 early in the second half, the Jackrabbits (11-10, 3-3 Summit) came back to get within two points at 40-38 on a Chad White 3-pointer with 14 minutes, 37 seconds left in the game, but the Pioneers (10-11, 3-3 Summit) outscored the Jacks 16-8 over the next five-plus minutes to push the lead to 56-46, their largest lead of the game with 9:11 on the clock.
The Jacks respond with an 11-2 run to cut the lead to 58-57 with 5:49 to play on an old fashioned 3-point play from Marcus Heemstra, prompting a timeout from the DU bench.
Denver scored out of the timeout to go back up by three, but White answered at the other end with a triple of his own, tying the game at 60-all with 5:07 left, the first of four tie scores over the remainder of the contest.
Down 71-66 with 36 seconds left in the game, Dykstra sank a 3-pointer with a hand in his face to cut the lead to 71-69. After a timeout, Cody Larson stole the Denver inbound pass, which ended up in Dykstra’s hands again, and he knocked down another triple, this one with 14 seconds left that gave the Jacks their first lead since the 11:33 mark of the first half, a span of 31 minutes and 19 seconds.
Denver then turned the ball over on its end of the floor, which forced the Pioneers to foul on the inbound with four seconds left. Dykstra again hit the free throws, but Denver inbounded the ball to half court with three seconds left and Bryant Rucker hit a shot at the buzzer, but with a foot on the 3-point line, giving the Jackrabbits the one point win.
Dykstra, who went scoreless in the first half, scored 14 of his team-high 18 points over the last 2 minutes, 51 seconds of the game. Larson added 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Jacks, who out-rebounded the Pioneers 30-18, including a 12-2 edge on the offensive glass. White finished with 13 points and Jake Bittle 10 points in the win.
Denver’s Chris Udofia led all players, and five Pioneers in double figures, with 20 points. Brett Olson finished with 16, Jalen Love 12 and both Rucker and Cam Griffin 11 points in the loss.
The Pioneers did shoot 59 percent from the floor in the game, 26 of 44, compared to the Jacks 49 percent, 24 of 49, but SDSU’s 12 offensive rebounds resulted in 17 second chance points, compared to four from the Pioneers.
The Jackrabbits look to complete the road trip sweep on Saturday, when they travel to Vermillion to take on South Dakota in the DakotaDome at 4 p.m.
NOTES: Thursday’s game marked the first-ever Summit League meeting between South Dakota State and Denver, and the ninth meeting overall … SDSU leads the series 5-4 … the Jackrabbits and Pioneers played in front of 1,877 fans at Magness Arena on the University of Denver campus … SDSU improves to 2-9 when trailing at the half and to 11-3 when winning the rebounding battle … SDSU overcame a double digit second half deficit to win a game for the first time since Dec. 5, 2009, when they overcame a 12 point deficit at Western Illinois to win 80-74 … Dykstra moved from eighth to seventh on the SDSU all-time scoring charts with 1,499 points, seven points shy of passing Clint Sargent (1,505 points from 2007-11) … Dykstra’s 8 for 8 mark from the free throw line gives him 26 straight free throws made, with his last miss coming on Jan. 9, at IUPUI … White moved from 25th to a tie for 24th on the all-time scoring list with 1,147 career points, tied with Tom Rops (1992-96)