Summit League Tournament Semifinals: (2) South Dakota State Women Advances to Championship, Beats Western Illinois 80-51
When the Summit League brought their post season basketball tournament to Sioux Falls ten seasons ago, no one was happier than the South Dakota State women’s team.
All the Jackrabbits did was win the first five championships deided in South Dakota’s largest city; seven-of-nine overall.
But after missing out on the title game last season, SDSU is back in its’ comfort zone - playing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament once again after a 80-51 seminfnal win over Western Illinois, Monday (March 5) at the Premier Center..
The Leathernecks opened the game in a zone defense and right away the Jackrabbits took advantage, hitting their first three shots from behind the three-point line to open up an 11-point lead five minutres in.
Western Illinois, the defending regular season and tournament champs, found their long range touch, draining a pair of threes to cut the SDSU lead to five. But SDSU was very effective passing the ball on the perimeter, with seven assists on their first nine baskets. Maddie Guebert reaped the benefit with seven straight points to end the first quarter and the Jacks were up 13.
The second quarter was all SDSU. The Jackrabbits, who had outscored the Leathernecks by a combined 56-17 in the second during the regular season, picked up right where they left off. WIU switched to a man-to-man defense midway through the period and SDSU began attacking inside, scoring the final 15 points of the half to lead by 29 at intermission.
Guebert led the way with 15 first half points. She finished with 20. Macy Miller added a double-double - 16 points and ten rebounds.
The Jackrabbits offense kept the good times rolling in the third - outshooting the Leathernecks 50 to 27 percent and extending their lead to 35 points.
That lead ballooned to as many as 42 points in the fourth quarter.
Tuesday’s (March 6) championship match-up with South Dakota will mark the third time in the last four years the Jackrabbits and Coyotes will meet in the title game, the fourth time overall. SDSU has won all four of those meetings.
USD swept the season series (by six in Brooings and by five in Vermillion) on the strength of its defense. In two games, ther Coyotes turned the Jackrabbits over 24 times, outscoiring them in points off of turnovers, 38-13.
Tipoff is 1:00 PM Tuesday in Sioux Falls. The game will be shown nationallly on ESPNU.