Jackrabbits Win Another Summit League Tournament Championship, Down Coyotes 61-55
Sioux Falls may be home to the Summit League Women's Basketball Tournament, but for the past eight years the event has belonged to South Dakota State.
For the seventh time during that stretch, the Jackrabbits claimed the conference's post season crown, beating South Dakota, 61-55, before a record crowd of 8,647.
SDSU got 18 points, on 5-of-11 shooting, and ten rebounds from sophomore guard Macy Miller, who was named tournament MVP. The conference player of the year, Nicole Seekamp, led USD with points on 8-of-17 shooting. The senior, a two-time tournament MVP, was playing in her final Summit League tourney.
The Jackrabbits grabbed an early five point lead on the strength of three-pointers from Miller and Kerri Young.
But SDSU went cold the remaining 5:17, missing their last nine shots of the quarter, leading to a 6-0 USD run and an 11-10 Coyote lead after the first ten minutes. Neither team shot the ball well in the first quarter. South Dakota was 27 percent from the floor (4-15), South Dakota State 22 percent (4-18).
The USD lead would reach six points early in the second before SDSU sandwiched three-pointers from Miller and Madison Guebert around a pair of free throws to go on a 13-2 run and retake the lead.
The two teams traded baskets the remainder of the quarter and South Dakota led by one, 27-26 at intermission.
Kelly Stewart had ten first half points for USD, Miller's 12 paced SDSU.
It was far cry from last season's title game, where the Coyotes shot just 13 percent (4-of-30) in the first half, trailed by 18 after 20 minutes, and never recovered, losing 72-57. USD finished the game just 1-of-16 from behind the three-point arc.
The cold shooting continued into the third quarter, where the two teams shot a combined 33 percent (9-of-27), but the Jackrabbits ability to make free throws (5-of-6) and the Coyotes inability to convert from the charity stripe (0-of-2) in the third, gave South Dakota State a two-point edge after 30 minutes.
SDSU grabbed a bit of breathing room early in the final quarter on back-to-back three-pointers from Guebert in the first three minutes to stretch the lead to 48-42.
That lead would grow to as many as ten with a minute to play, when USD mounted one last comeback, running off five straight to make it a five-point game, but they'd get no closer than that.
Seekamp scored 16 of her 22 points in the second half. She also added four steals, four rebounds, and three assists.
Guebert added 14 for the Jackrabbits.
The 28,872 total attendance for the women's sessions broke last year's all-time records for the event.
SDSU won as the number two seed in the event. In the last eight Summit League Women's Tournaments, the top seed seed has only won the event three times, most recently in 2013.
The game marked the third time in the last four seasons the Coyotes and Jackrabbits have played for the women's title. South Dakota State beat South Dakota for the championship in 2013 and 2015.
In the eight years the Summit League Tournament has been held in Sioux Falls, women's teams from the host state are a combined 30-4, winning all eight titles. All four defeats were in head-to-head match-ups between the Jackrabbits and Coyotes - three title games, and a 2014 USD victory over SDSU in the semifinals.
The Jackrabbits will get their first round pairing for the NCAA Tournament Monday night during the national selection show. Later that night, the Coyotes will get their draw for the WNIT. USD automatically qualifies for that tournament as the Summit League regular season champion.