Editor's Note: Throughout the 2012-13 athletics season, Jackrabbit Athletics will spotlight 40 of the top moments in the 40-year history of Frost Arena. This week's segment focuses on the 1977 exhibition game between South Dakota State and the Cuban National Team.
MEN'S BASKETBALL: CUBA 65, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 55In the spring of 1977, a group of men's basketball student-athletes from both South Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota traveled to Cuba for a historic set of exhibition games. The South Dakota contingent were among the first Americans to visit the communist island country since the infamous Bay of Pigs in 1961.
Later that year, the Cuban National Team returned the favor by traveling to the United States for a series of exhibition games against college teams. The Cuban team's stops included both SDSU and USD, meeting the Jackrabbits at Frost Arena on Nov. 13, 1977, before a crowd of 4,201.
The first half was tightly contested with the Jackrabbits getting to within 35-31 on a half-court buzzer beater by Cer'Ci Mahone just before intermission.
In the second half, the older and more experienced Cuban team took over, pulling away for a 65-55 victory.
"They just wore us down," Jackrabbit head coach Gene Zulk was quoted in the Nov. 14, 1977, edition of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. "Their inside game is so strong. Even when we were able to get it to our players underneath, it didn't do much good.
"But I'm very satisfied with our play; we gave it good effort. The game taught us how important it is to be patient to play as a team."
Mahone finished with a game-high 16 points. Steve Brown added 12 points and Rob Hayner chipped in with 10. Larry Nickelson added a team-high nine rebounds.
Cuba received a double-double from Felix Morales with 12 points and 10 rebounds in leading a 44-40 Cuban rebounding advantage. Alejandro Urgelles added 12 points.