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Dick Carlson | Inertia
Nate Wolters of South Dakota State drives past Pierre Bland of IPFW during Monday’s Summit League semifinal. Wolters led the Jackrabbits with 18 points.

Mastodons start strong, but can’t finish

Dick Carlson | Inertia
IPFW’s Frank Gaines looks past South Dakota State’s Brayden Carlson on Monday. Gaines scored a game-high 25 points in the loss.

– IPFW had top-seeded South Dakota State right where it wanted, up 10 points only three minutes into the game. But it wouldn’t last.

South Dakota State rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit to knock out the fifth-seeded Mastodons 72-56 in the Summit League tournament men’s semifinals at Sioux Falls Arena.

All-Summit League first-teamer Frank Gaines got the Mastodons off to a solid start, hitting two three-pointers early and getting the Mastodons out and running. The Jackrabbits helped the IPFW cause, turning the ball over seven times in the first 12 minutes.

“They were ready to go,” South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said. “All the things that we had planned for went out the window in a hurry.”

But as the half wore on the Mastodons struggled, going through a six-minute stretch without a field goal and barely holding onto a 34-32 lead at halftime.

After a Pierre Bland layup with 15:34 put IPFW ahead 45-44, South Dakota State went on a 23-3 run in a nine-minute span to go up by 19 points and put the semifinal game out of reach.

“It kind of got away from us in the second half,” Gaines said. “We couldn’t really make anything.”

Outside of Gaines’ game-high 25 points, no other Mastodon had more than seven points. The Mastodons made nine field goals while the Jackrabbits made seven three-pointers in the second half.

“I thought tonight, the crowd made an impact in the every facet of the game,” Jasick said. “We did not execute in the second half the way we did in the first. You can’t do that out here in a great environment.”

While IPFW defended the South Dakota State star guard Nate Wolters much better than it did in Fort Wayne, when he scored 53. Wolters finished with 18 points, but tied a career-high with 12 assists.

Instead, it was the other pieces for the Jackrabbits – the players Jasick said his team couldn’t afford to have in a groove – that flipped the game in South Dakota State’s favor.

Guard Chad White kept SDSU alive in the first half and finished with 17 points, and forward Tony Fiegen took advantage of many double teams of Wolters to score 16 points.

“Balls were flying from all over the place,” Jasick said. “We didn’t do a good job offensively, and they’re nearly unguardable in transition.”