Women’s season starts with diverse opponents

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After winning two exhibition games to start the season, the South Dakota State women’s basketball team will play their first two games of the regular season this weekend. They host the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders Nov. 10, and face the George Washington Colonials on the road Nov. 12.

The Jacks defeated Minnesota State University Moorhead 93-58 Oct. 26 and beat Northern State 71-59 Nov. 2. Junior guard Madi Guebert led SDSU with 17 points against Northern State. Senior forward Ellie Thompson and redshirt junior guard Macy Miller added 14 and 12 points respectively.

NJIT finished last season with an 11-19 overall record and finished fifth in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The team includes only one senior and is ranked sixth in the conference’s preseason poll.

Head coach Aaron Johnston said NJIT brings a different style of play than the Jacks have seen in their exhibition games.

“They play a variety of defenses. There is a good chance we will see some zone and a different style of play,” Johnston said. “Most of the Division I teams we play will include more of a penetrate-and-kick style by using the three-point lines to spread us out and drive to the basket and New Jersey is definitely along those lines.”

Leading the Highlanders is redshirt junior guard Tatianna Torres, who was named the Preseason Player of the Year in the Atlantic Sun. Last season, Torres was tied for second on the team in points per game, averaging 10.9, and set the school’s Division I record for total steals in a season with 67.

The Jacks will face a more familiar opponent at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Nov. 13. The Colonials saw success last season, claiming their first 20-win season in program history. The Jacks beat GWU 60-55 in their matchup last season at Frost Arena.

“We were pretty fortunate last year because that was shortly after we lost Macy [Miller] and we were a little banged up,” Johnston said. “We were down big early in that game, but we just kept clawing back and snuck out a win.”

GWU made the WNIT last season but fell in the first round to Navy. The team finished the 2016-17 season with a 20-10 record and are predicted to finish sixth in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll this season. 

GWU isn’t the same team the Jacks faced last year, Johnson said.

“They have a couple of familiar faces, but they have a lot of new players. I would expect that their style of play will be the same,” he said.

Action will tip-off 6 p.m. Nov. 11 at Frost Arena in the first game of a men’s and women’s doubleheader. The Jacks will then play at 1 p.m. Central Time on Nov. 12 at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C.

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