When the women's basketball season began in the Summit League, two teams that seemed destined to complete for the regular season championship were South Dakota State and Oakland.  The Jackrabbits were the defending regular season and tournament champs, the Golden Grizzlies featured the pre-season player of the year, Bethany Watterworth.  Twice in the last four seasons, these two have squared off for the Summit League Tournament title game.

This season, SDSU is right on schedule, winning 10 of their first 11 conference games to open up a three game lead on the field with five games to play.  Oakland has won just twice in Summit League play, as Watterworth has been out all year with an injury, and is now trying to rebuild with three freshmen in the starting lineup.

The Jacks have won four straight coming in.  Reserve center Katie Lingle leading the way Thursday night against Ft. Wayne with a career-high 18 points.  Forward Megan Waytashek leads the team, and is fourth in conference play, in scoring with better than 16 points a game.  She's gone for 30 or more twice in the last month, including 33 last Saturday at Kansas City to grab Summit League play of the year honors.

Oakland comes in with a four game losing streak.  In Watterworth's absence, guard Elena Popkey is the Golden Grizzlies leading scorer, her 14 points per game are tenth best in the conference.  She's also the second most accurate three-point shooter in the Summit, hitting 55 percent from behind the arc.

As a team, South Dakota State boasts the top scoring offense and stingiest defense in the conference, while Oakland is in the bottom three in both categories.

SDSU won the first meeting with Oakland last month in Michigan, as the Jacks used a 18-8 first half run, keyed by eight points from Lingle, to open up a ten point halftime lead, and win 64-43.  Neither team shot the ball well in that game, SDSU 37 percent, Oakland 33 percent, although the Jacks did hit 10 three-pointers.

As part of the Coaches vs. Cancer campaign, the Jackrabbit women's basketball team will wear pink jerseys during tonight's game.  Tipoff is 7:00pm.

South Dakota's women are home to Kansas City this afternoon, and the Coyotes have a score to settle with the 'Roos.

When the two teams met in Kansas City last month, USD was second in the Summit League standings and Kansas City was mired in an eight-game losing streak.  But UMKC won 60-56, in part because they beat the Coyotes at their own game.  USD was the top rebounding team in the league coming in, but Kansas City beat them on the boards 38-31, and outscored them on second chance points 14-9.

The 'Roos built a 10-point lead at halftime and stretched it to 18 with about 10 minutes to play when the Coyotes mounted a furious rally, outscoring Kansas City 28-14, while forcing eight turnovers and allowing just three field goals in that stretch. Kansas
City shot eight-for-10 from the free-throw line to hold on.

One player has been doing most of the damage for UMKC this season.  Guard Eilise O'Connor leads the Summit League with 21 points per game.  USD has two players in the top ten in scoring, Nicole Seekamp and Tempestt Wilson, who each average 15 points a game.

South Dakota (6-4) begins the day a half-game out of second place, while Kansas City (4-6) is tied for sixth.

Tipoff is 2:00pm at the DakotaDome.