Denver men’s basketball (12-9, 3-5) traveled to Brookings, S.D. to take on perennial Summit League power South Dakota State Jackrabbits (10-9, 5-2). Going into the game, Denver had to hold down the Jacks star guard Zeke Mayo, the Jackrabbits leading scorer and rebounder. Mayo torched DU in the first half but it was a poor final ten minutes that doomed the Pioneers, 76-61. Following the loss, Coach Jeff Wulbrun said, “We didn’t perform the way we wanted to. The last minutes we didn’t execute well.”
SDSU started with the first six points but Denver countered with an 8-point run. The Jax made it 24-16 with 5 out of 6 from three-point range by Zeke Mayo who had 17 points in the first dozen minutes. A Justin Mullins three-point splash pulled DU within six, 26-20. A Mullins steal and Kisunus dunk pulled Denver within four. Mullins again with a bucket-and-one kept DU within a single possession. With under three minutes remaining, Tommy Bruner gave Denver a 30-28 lead. Mayo countered with yet another three-point make to give SDSU the lead again but Tevin Smith tied the game at 34. Mayo’s seventh three-point make gave the halftime lead to the Jacks, 37-34, with thirty seconds left remaining, Twenty-three points from Mayo in the half was the difference. Lukas Kisunas led DU with 12 points in the first 20 minutes.
Denver got first blood, 37-36, after the break and the Pioneers took the lead 38-37 early in the second half. Touko Tainamo made it 40-37 with an offensive rebound and putback. DU led 42-41 at the first official timeout. SDSU went on a run to lead by three but Marko Lukic tied the game. A Touko Tainamo 3-point at 13:42 gave DU the lead by three. The game was tied with 12 minutes remaining. Bruner gave DU the lead 52-50 at 10:10 but SDSU countered to match DU with nine minutes remaining and then, went on a five-point run, 57-52, with 8:11 remaining. Kisunas scored a contested bucket to pull within three at 7:33 but SDSU went on a run and stretched the lead to seven with 4:50 remaining. Down the stretch, Denver could only score 5 points to the Jacks 13 points as SDSU ran away with the game. Final score, 76-61.
“I’ve got a resilient bunch,” said Wulbrun. “We’ll come to practice Monday ready to make more improvements.”