Summit League Women’s Tournament: South Dakota State Set to Defend Title Against South Dakota
They come from the same state, but took very different paths to get here.
When South Dakota State and South Dakota do battle for the Summit League Women's Championship this afternoon, only one of them was expected to be in the title game.
The Jackrabbits aren't just in the Summit League Tournament, they own the tournament, with a perfect 14-0 record since first playing in this event in March of 2009. SDSU was the pre-season favorite to repeat and they marched through the regular season, losing just a pair of conference games to IUPUI.
South Dakota State got all conference seasons from Ashley Eide and Megan Waytashek, while Katie Lingle was the Summit's Sixth Woman of the Year, and found themselves with their fourth regular season championship in six years.
The Coyotes road to the Summit League Championship game has been much more complicated. During the summer, they welcomed a new coach, Amy Williams, and she didn't exactly get the welcome she had hoped for. Before the season even tipped off, the Coyotes, who finished third in the Summit last season, but lost leader Amber Hegge to graduation, saw five different players go down with season ending injuries, leaving Williams with just ten healthy players, and some gaping holes in her roster.
After struggling through the non-conference portion of their schedule, USD seemed to hit its stride in Summit League play, winning six of their first eight, sitting in second place at the halfway point. But that was followed up by a stretch where the Coyotes dropped four-of-five to drop to the middle of the pack.
That's when senior Tempestt Wilson took over, helping the Coyotes to three straight wins to end the season, grabbing the number three seed in their first ever Summit League Tournament.
In the tournament, SDSU grabbed a 14-point win over Oakland and a 17-point victory over Fort Wayne, with Ashley Eide leading the way with 34 points in two games.
For USD, they used the same blueprint in 20-point wins over North Dakota State and IUPUI, a slow start and a lot of Nicole Seekamp in the second half. The sophomore import from Australia, showed why she made the Summit League All-Newcomer Team with nine second half points against the Bison, and an impressive 23 second half points against the Jaguars.
South Dakota State won both regular season meetings with South Dakota, 72-60 in Brookings, 63-55 in Vermillion. Ashley Eide had 40 against the Coyotes, Tempestt Wilson 34 against the Jackrabbits.
Two areas that favor SDSU in this matchup: inside play and depth.
The Jacks put up some big numbers inside against the Coyotes during the regular season, 68-44 in the paint, and 30-13 on second chance points.
Off the bench, SDSU reserves held a 35-21 advantage.
South Dakota State has won 31 of the last 34 head-to-head matchups with South Dakota.
Regardless of where they've been over the years, one thing is certain: this is the biggest game in the long history of this big rivalry.
Tipoff is 2:30pm at the Sioux Falls Arena. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.