BROOKINGS, S.D. — Nate Wolters scored 31 points and South Dakota State won for the 10th time in its last 12 games, defeating Southern Utah 66-56 Saturday night.
Wolters hit 10 of 16 shots from the floor and was 11 for 13 at the free-throw line. The junior guard has surpassed the 30-point mark four times this season and is averaging 21.3 points per game.
Griffan Callahan added 10 points for the Jackrabbits (19-6, 11-2 Summit).
"I've never felt more proud of a team than I do tonight," SUU Coach Roger Reid said. "We've struggled here but our team came out and played hard all night long, we had a chance to win but just couldn't get it done."
Ray Jones Jr. led Southern Utah (12-12, 7-7) with 18 points. Ramell Taylor added 13 points and nine rebounds but also had eight of the Thunderbirds' 18 turnovers.
The win was South Dakota State's sixth straight against Southern Utah.
UTAH VALLEY 68, HOUSTON BAPTIST 66: At Houston, Utah Valley had four players score in double-digits and Houston Baptist's rally fell short.
Isiah Williams scored 16 points and Ben Aird added 13 for Utah Valley (15-10), which nearly relinquished a 65-61 lead with 1:22 remaining. Houston Baptist (7-15) got to within 67-66 on a 3-pointer from Jonathan Evans with 11 seconds left. After succumbing to a Houston Baptist foul, Keith Thompson made the first free throw and missed the second, allowing Geddes Robinson to grab the offensive board to seal the win.
"Winning streaks are wonderful in the fact that they push and motivate a team. This was a very hard-fought, tough game and I'm very pleased with win," said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker. "HBU is an extremely athletic and quick team and they put a lot of pressure on you. We were very fortunate to come out on top in this one."
WESTMINSTER 70, MONTANA TECH 61: At Salt Lake City, the Griffins (17-8, 5-4) picked up a critical win over Montana Tech, winning its fourth in the last five games to improve to 17-8 overall and 5-4 in Frontier action. They have now climbed back within a game-and-a-half of first place MSU-Northern thanks to help from around the league. They are now also just one game back of second place Montana Western.
Things didn't start out to strong for the Griffins as they found themselves trailing 19-10 less than eight minutes into the evening. Thanks to a 13-4 run over the next six minutes, Westminster had evened the score at 23-23 before eventually taking the lead at 25-24 and again at 27-26. Tech (10-10, 2-7) would eventually carry a 31-27 lead into halftime.
The visitors would again push the advantage to eight at the 15:58 mark thanks to seven points from Daniel Simon. Tanner Gregory would then score six straight Westminster points during an 11-3 run that cut the deficit to 42-41 with 12:14 remaining. The Griffins would then use a 13-4 push to take the lead at 54-51 with 7:04 to play. Jake Orchard hit his only three of the game to put the Griffin in front 52-51 with 7:40 to play and the Griffins would not surrender the advantage for the rest of the night. They went 8-of-10 at the foul line over the final 1:42 to seal the victory.
The Griffins finished the night shooting a season-best 59.1 percent from the floor. That percentage was bolstered by the 68.2 percent they shot after intermission. They had 32 points in the paint and scored six second-chance points. Westminster finished with a 30-23 rebounding advantage while recording 16 assists and seven blocked shots.
Jordan Hayter led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The 19 points match his career high that was set back in November. He also came up with four assists, three rebounds and one steal. AJ Reilly had his second straight solid performance off the Griffin bench finishing with 15 points, including 13 after halftime. Orchard finished the game with 10 points and three assists.
Simon led the Orediggers with 18 points with Tyree Haynie adding 17. Tech forced 17 Griffin turnovers and turned them into 26 points.
Westminster will now hit the road for the final time of the regular season with two games next weekend. They begin the trip on Thursday with a 7:30 p.m. game at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont. The game will be broadcast live on GOTW.tv.
SLCC 86, COLORADO NORTHWESTERN 61: At Rangely, Colo., the Bruins (19-5, 6-3) battled back from 12 points down.
The Bruins turned up the defensive pressure in the second half to climb back into the game. Skylar Halford led Salt Lake with 16 points followed by Davis Emery with 11 points.
The Bruins (19-5, 6-3) return home to host Snow College on Feb. 11.