MACOMB, IL -- South Dakota State men's basketball won its third consecutive game Saturday night, taking down Western Illinois on the road, 71-61.
The Jackrabbits (17-8, 8-2 Summit League) saw the Leathernecks storm back from an 18-point halftime deficit to make it a one-possession game, but outscored WIU by nine from that point on to close out the win.
"We certainly got a little stagnant in the second half, and I thought we got a little loose on the defensive end at times," head coach Eric Henderson said. "When all is said and done, though, when you go on the road and win, you have to be proud. It wasn't always pretty, but our guys were able to get their momentum back and stretch it out from there."
Douglas Wilson paced the Jackrabbit offense with 18 points, hitting 7-of-12 from the field and 4-of-6 at the line. Alex Arians and Noah Freidel were in double figures as well with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Arians hit 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and led the team with six rebounds. Five Jackrabbits - Freidel, Wilson, Matt Dentlinger, David Wingett and Baylor Scheierman - had five rebounds apiece as SDSU claimed a plus-16 advantage on the boards.
The Jackrabbits trail 8-5 four minutes into the action, but a Dentlinger layup out of the under-16 media break helped jumpstart SDSU's offense as the visitors went in front for good. Ahead 15-13 after a Wilson free throw at 11:02, the Jacks continued to push and soon stretched their lead to double figures (28-18) on a David Wingett layup with 7:05 on the clock. That bucket came in the midst of a 15-0 Jackrabbit rally that helped State take a 38-18 lead on Freidel's triple at 4:05 in the first.
Up 42-24 at the break, the Jackrabbits saw their double-digit lead come in handy as they held off a second-half Leatherneck charge.
WIU crawled back to within 12 (42-30) two and a half minutes into the period, then made it a single-digit game (56-48) near the seven-minute mark. The Leathernecks kept pressing and drew within one (58-57) on a Ben Pyle triple at 3:07. That was as close as they would come, however, as SDSU recovered momentum with a Dentlinger 3-point play and closed the game on an 13-4 scoring spurt.
South Dakota State is 28-5 all-time against Western Illinois and has swept the 2019-20 regular season series.
In two games against WIU this season, the Jackrabbit defense has limited the Leathernecks to 12-of-55 shooting from beyond the arc.
The Jacks shot over 50 percent for the 10th consecutive game.
South Dakota State is idle until Saturday, Feb. 8 when it hosts Omaha for the 2020 Pork Classic. The doubleheader at Frost Arena gets underway with the women's game at 2 p.m., followed by the men's contest at 4:15 p.m.
-Recap Courtesy SDSU Athletics