Jackrabbits Down Coyotes, Win Sixth Summit League Championship in Seven Years
After having their 15-game Summit League Tournament winning streak snapped by South Dakota last year, the South Dakota State women's basketball team exacted their revenge in a big way in the 2015 finals Tuesday afternoon in Sioux Falls, beating the Coyotes 72-57.
With the score 3-2 USD early, the Jackrabbits went on a tear, scoring 11 straight, while the Coyotes could manage ony five missed shots and three turnovers. SDSU led 11-3 four minutes in.
That advantage quickly grew to 14, as the Jacks used a jumper from Clarissa Ober and a three-pointer from Rachel Walters to spark an 8-0 run to make it 19-5 with less than eight minutes gone in the game. South Dakota State was a blistering 9-of-10 from the floor to start, while the Coyotes opened 3-of-16.
The onslaught of SDSU points continued later, this time a 10-0 run, fueled by four points from Macy Miller, pushing the lead to 31-9 with 7:25 left in the half.
When the dust had settled after 20 minutes at the Denny Sanford Premier Center, the Coyotes, who led the Summit League with 77 points a game during the regular season, shooting a second-best 43.8%, had just four made baskets, had committed nine turnovers, and trailed 37-19. USD shot just 13 percent in the first half.
Some of the credit for USD's dismal shooting needs to go to South Dakota State's defense, which also held Oral Roberts to just four field goals in the second half of Monday's semifinal game. That means in two halves of play, SDSU opponents were 8-of-45, for just under 18 percent.
Miller led the first half attack for ther Jackrabbits, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
The SDSU lead stood at 57-38 with 11:00 to play in the game, when USD made their first serious run, with four straight baskets in the paint, two from Margaret McCloud and one each from Bridget Arens and Nicole Seekamp to bring the Coyotes to within 13.
The game would get no closer than that as the Jackrabbits got seven points down the stretch from Ellie Thompson to seal their second championship victory over the Coyotes in three years.
Thompson joined Miller and Megan Waytashek on the All-Tournament Team. Seekamp was USD's lone representative, as well as the MVP of the event for the second time in three years.
Next stop for the Jackrabbits, the 64-team NCAA Tournament. The women's selection show is Monday, March 16, at 6:00 PM on ESPN. The Coyotes are likely to be invited to play in the WNIT. That 32-team field will be announced right after the NCAA selection show that same night.
The game was played in front of a crowd of 6,926, the largest gathering ever for a Summit League women's championship game. The total women's attendance of 24,395 for the four-day was also a conference best.