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Balanced Jackrabbits Bounce Belmont 85-72

Jake Bittle, South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Robby Gallagher/South Dakota State University

BROOKINGS, SD — All five Jackrabbit starters scored in double figures as South Dakota State shot a season-high 57.4 percent from the floor in an 85-72 win over Belmont on Saturday at Frost Arena.

Brayden Carlson led the way for the Jacks, who improve to 5-7 on the season, with 20 points. Cody Larson scored 16 points and finished with game-highs with nine rebounds and with four assists. Jordan Dykstra went just 1 for 3 from the floor, but connected on nine of his 10 free throws to finish with 11 points, while Chad White finished with 10 points.

“I was frustrated in the first half with all of the turnovers because we were obviously shooting the ball well, but we thought we should’ve been up by more, but we just didn’t take good care of the basketball,” head coach Scott Nagy said. “We did take care of it in the second half, and when a couple of those shots go in, it gives you energy. I though Cody established the inside for us on the offensive and defensive ends, and our other guys like Brayden, Jordan and Chad did what they normally do, and the big difference for us was Jake coming back.”

Jake being Jake Bittle, who finished the game with a career-high 19 points in his first home game of the season after sitting out eight games with an injury before returning to the floor in Tuesday’s game at Minnesota.

Belmont, which falls to 8-3, saw four players score in double figures, led by Craig Bradshaw and his 17 points; with J.J. Mann adding 15, Blake Jenkins 14 and Caleb Chowbay 10 in the loss.

Trailing 8-6 early in the game, the Jacks used an 8-0 run to take a lead they would never relinquish. SDSU led by as many as six points on four more occasions in the first half and let the Bruins get within one point at 30-29 before taking a 36-33 lead into the locker room at halftime.

SDSU committed of its 12 turnovers in the first half, but continued to shoot well in the second half, opening the stanza with 3-pointers from White, Anders Broman and Bittle to increase the lead to 12 points at 51-39 with 15 minutes and 51 seconds left in the game.

The Jackrabbits pushed the lead to as many as 19 points midway through the half, only to see the Bruins mount a comeback to get within seven points at 71-64 with 4:44 left to play.

Free throws made the difference down the stretch, as the Jackrabbits went 10 of 12 from the charity stripe over the last 4:10 to secure the win.

The Jackrabbits look to make it five in a row at home on Wednesday, when they host the Wayne State Wildcats at Frost Arena at 7 p.m.

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Courtesy:  South Dakota State University

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