Summit League Tournament Preview: Jackrabbit Women Are #2 Seed, Play Fort Wayne in Round One
In the seven years the Summit League Women's Basketball Tournament has been played in Sioux Falls, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits have had a near stranglehold on the event. Since 2009, SDSU is 18-1 in tourney games, winning six of the previous seven championships.
If the Jacks are going to repeat as champs in 2016, they'll have to follow the same formula that work last year, win as the #2 seed.
South Dakota State (23-6/13-3) opens the tournament with #7 Fort Wayne, Saturday at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls
The Jackrabbits had the stingiest defense in the Summit this season, allowing just 57 points per game. SDSU is also first in rebounding and free throw shooting, third in scoring. They beat the likes of Pittsburgh, Arkansas, and Creighton during non-conference play.
The pre-season favorite to win the league, the Jacks were looking to replace about half of the scoring from last season's team. First team All-Summit League guard Macy Miller leads the way with 14 points per game, with Summit League Freshman of the Year Madison Guebert making strong impact in her first year, averaging 12 points per game. Sophomore Ellie Thompson was on the Summit's all-newcomer team last season and has added an additional four points and three rebounds a game to her averages this year.
Junior forward Clarissa Ober is the Summit League Defensive Player of the Year after finishing the regular season second in blocked shots and fifth in rebounding.
The Mastodons (7-22/3-13) finished the regular season winning two of their last four, after losing 11 in a row and 14-of-15 at one point. IPFW has been battling injuries all year, with just five players appearing in all 16 conference games.
Fort Wayne is seventh in the league in scoring and defense and is led by senior guard Kamilah Carter. She's seventh in scoring, fourth in three-point shooting. As a team, IPFW has made a three-pointer in 524 games, the second longest active streak behind Iowa State.
The Mastodons haven't won a tournament game since 2013 and have beaten South Dakota State just once in 27 all-time meetings. The Jacks swept IPFW this season, winning by an average of 23 points.
Tipoff is 2:30 PM, Saturday.
I talked with head coach Aaron Johnston about the match-up with Fort Wayne as well as last week's loss at IUPUI and last-second win at Western Illinois: