Men’s hoops fail to sweep the Jackrabbits in Brookings

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Jake Thompson

Freshman guard C.J. Duff leads the way for the Leathernecks on Wednesday with 16 points.

Campbell Atkins

BROOKINGS, SD — The Leathernecks failed to sweep SDSU this season after an ugly 98-65 road loss on Wednesday night. Western got within five early in the second half but were outscored 53-31 in the final 30 minutes.

“We have to identify what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said head coach Billy Wright. “It’s getting to the point where every game is equally important and everyone is fighting for an opportunity.”

The Jackrabbits were on for most of the night and outplayed Western in every aspect of the game. They shot nearly 58 percent, opposed to just 42 from the Leathernecks, and dominated the paint with 62 points down low.

The duo of Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak has led Western in scoring this year, but only combined for 9 points Wednesday. C.J. Duff led the Leathernecks with 16, closely followed by Dalan Ancrum with 14.

Early on, it appeared to be Western’s night. They jumped out to an 8-2 lead with Ancrum responsible for every point. The Jackrabbits seized the momentum quickly and shut down any chance at the Leathernecks improving to .500 in the Summit.

SDSU built a 13-point lead with 10 minutes to go in the first half thanks to a 26-7 run. The lead grew to 17 before Western trimmed it to 11 at the break.

After the Leathernecks got within five early in the second half, the Jackrabbits took over once again and coasted to an easy win.

SDSU had five players finish with double figures Wednesday. Senior guard Michael Orris led the way with 18 points and 8 assists.

“We knew their personnel. We knew who the drivers and the shooters were, but we played them all like shooters in the first half,” said Wright. “Give them credit, they kept attacking and attacking.”

The loss came almost one month after the Leathernecks defeated the Jackrabbits for the first time since the 2008-09 season at Western Hall. Western lost a chance to sweep them in a season for the first time since they both competed in the Summit League.

SDSU improves to 11-14 on the season and 4-6 in conference play. Western falls to 11-14 and 4-6. The Jackrabbits will host Oral Roberts (7-17, 3-7) on Saturday.

The Leathernecks will head home and take on Omaha (12-11, 5-5) next. Wright wants his team focusing on the future and not the past.

“We’ve got a tough Omaha team coming in on Saturday, but we’ve got a tough team and we have to regroup, learn from this and put it behind us,” Wright said. “The things that went wrong tonight went well on Saturday against IUPUI. So it’s just which Western team is going to show up? We have to be consistently better with our defensive effort.”

The loss drops Western into a three-way tie with SDSU and IUPUI for sixth in the Summit League Standings. There are six games remaining in the regular season for the Leathernecks. After Omaha, Western will travel to Oral Roberts.

Western will tip off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Western Hall against the Omaha Mavericks.

Twitter: @campbellatkins4