Nate Wolters scored a school-record 53 points and broke another mark with nine three-pointers as South Dakota State defeated IPFW 80-74 Thursday night.
Wolters’ point total is the highest this season by a Division I player, bettering a 47-point performance by Oakland’s Travis Bader on Jan. 24 against IUPUI. He broke Dave Thomas’ school record of 44 points (March 10, 1973 vs. Coe College) and Randy Suarez’s mark of eight three-pointers (Feb. 7, 1987 vs. Augustana).
Wolters was 9 for 14 from beyond the arc, 17 for 28 overall and 10 for 11 at the free-throw line. He scored 38 of his points in the second half, helping South Dakota State (19-6, 10-2 Summit) shoot 64 percent from the floor and overcome an 11-point deficit.
“They were sagging off of me and my shot felt pretty good tonight,” Wolters said. “I was able to knock a couple down and just got into a little bit of a rhythm.
“It’s a good accomplishment, but it’s a big win for us. We had to have it. ... They played tough, but we were able to put together a big second half and pull away.”
Wolters’ three-pointer with 1:47 remaining gave the Jackrabbits their first lead of the half, 70-68, and helped them finish the game on a 13-6 run. He added his sixth three-pointer of the second half with 58 seconds remaining to put South Dakota State ahead 73-69 and hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 90 seconds.
“What happened tonight is the result of a lot of time in the gym for Nate, and sometimes kids get in a zone, they feel it, and it doesn’t matter what they do, you can’t stop them,”South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said. “That was the case tonight, and Nate knew it, the players knew it, I knew it.”
Frank Gaines led IPFW (10-15, 3-8) with 29 points, and Luis Jacobo had 14. The Mastadons lost despite hitting 9 of 20 three-point attempts and outrebounding the Jackrabbits 37-29.
The 53-point performance is the third-highest in Summit League history, trailing only North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside (60 vs. Stephen F. Austin, Dec. 12, 2008) and Kansas City’s Michael Watson (54 vs. Oral Roberts, Feb. 22, 2003).