Fort Wayne (incnow.tv)- The IPFW Mastodons battled with Summit League-leading South Dakota State for the entire game, leading by three with two and a half minutes left in the game, but the Jackrabbits pulled away late behind a Division I season-high 53 points from Nate Wolters in an 80-74 SDSU win.
Frank Gaines put together his third straight 25+ point effort with 29 points, hitting 11-of-22 shots from the field and 5-of-8 from long range, while Luis Jacobo scored 14. Mario Hines pulled down 11 rebounds, as the Mastodons out-rebounded the Jackrabbits 37-to-29 in the game. Pierre Bland dished out a game-high five assists, with Gaines grabbing a pair of steals.
IPFW (10-15, 3-8 Summit) jumped ahead early, and led for nearly the entire first half, as the 'Dons pushed the lead to 10 with seven minutes left in the first half on a Gaines three-point basket. The Mastodon advantage reached as many as 11 in the first half after a lay-in from Hines.
The Mastodons pushed the lead back to 11 with 13 seconds left in the half with another Gaines triple, before Wolters drained a long range shot for South Dakota State (19-6, 10-2 Summit) with four seconds left in the half, setting the stage for his big second half.
South Dakota State struck first in the second half, cutting the gap to six, before Jacobo hit a jumper and Joe Edwards a three-point basket to re-introduce an 11-point margin. Wolters and Gaines traded lay-ins to keep the IPFW advantage at 11 at 44-33.
The Jackrabbits followed by scoring the next seven points, five of those from Wolters, to close to within four. A jumper by Edwards, a free throw from Joe Reed and a dunk from Gaines pushed the margin to nine. Leading by eight with 12:03 to play, SDSU out-scored IPFW 10-2 over the next three minutes to knot the score at 52 apiece.
Tied for the first time since early in the contest, Wolters erupted of the game's final 10 minutes, scoring 27 of his team's final 31 points, making 7-of-8 shots from the field, 5-of-6 on 3's, and 8-of-8 on charity stripe attempts over the last 10 minutes of the game.
Despite the gaudy offensive numbers from Wolters, the Mastodons stuck in the game, as every shot by SDSU was countered by one of IPFW, as there were a combined six tie scores over the final nine minutes of the contest. IPFW took leads on a lay-in from Bland, a lay-in by Gaines, a three-pointer by Michael Kibiloski, two free throws from Jacobo, another Gaines lay-in, and a tip-in by Hines each giving IPFW a lead, but each time the Jackrabbits countered with a tying score.
IPFW led by as many as three late after the Hines tip-in with 2:38 to play, and trailed by one with 1:27 to play after a Gaines free throw, but Wolters followed with his fifth three-pointer in the final nine minutes to push the margin to four, as the visitors converted 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to ice the game in an 80-74 SDSU win.
Wolters ended the game hitting 17-of-28 shots from the field, 9-of-14 from long range, and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe. Tony Fiegen was the only other Jackrabbit player to reach double figures with 11 points, while Taevaunn Prince scored five.
His 53 points are a new single-game South Dakota State record, and the third-most ever scored by a Summit League student-athlete.
IPFW hit 28-of-57 shots from the field, and 9-of-20 from long range in the losing effort, while dishing out 14 assists against just 13 turnovers.
The Mastodons return to action on Saturday, February 9 in a 7 p.m. tip-off, when the squad hosts the North Dakota State Bison, who fell 66-63 to the Oakland Grizzlies in Rochester, Mich.
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