After a challenging non-conference schedule featuring games against Louisville, Oklahoma and North Carolina State, the South Dakota State women’s basketball team is 12-4 and won their first two Summit League games of the season. The Jacks beat both Omaha and North Dakota State last week at Frost Arena by 20 points or more.
In the win against Omaha, junior guard Madison Guebert led all scorers with 25 points and was 4-4 from three. The Jacks trailed the Mavericks 40-38 at halftime, but outscored Omaha 51-24 in the second half.
Redshirt junior guard Macy Miller said the team was overconfident to start the game.
“I felt in the first half we were too content,” Miller said. “We needed to pick up our energy and realize that (Summit League) games aren’t going to be easy. After that, we picked up our defense and really pushed the tempo on offense.”
Later in the week, the Jacks hosted rival NDSU. The recent first half struggles continued for the team as they led by only three at halftime, but a strong second half fueled the team to another win.
Four players including Guebert, Miller, freshman forward Tylee Irwin and redshirt sophomore forward Tagyn Larson all finished with double figures in points scored.
Miller said it feels great to start conference play 2-0, but the rest of the season is going to be tough.
“We are at the top of The Summit League right now and every team wants to beat us. Because of that, we get every opponent’s best game like we saw in our games with NDSU and Omaha.”
Guebert said it was important for the Jacks to get off to a good start.
“It was really important for us to get started on the right foot because it is a lot harder to have to dig yourself out of a hole from the beginning,” Guebert said. “With The Summit League this year, it is going to be tough with a lot of teams that are evenly matched.”
Looking ahead, the Jacks will face Denver and Oral Roberts on the road this week before heading back home to face Dakota Wesleyan on January 16.
The Pioneers enter Thursday’s matchup with a 10-7 record. Denver opened up Summit League play with a 79-51 road loss against USD, but responded with a win at Fort Wayne. The Pioneers don’t have a player averaging in double figures in points per game. Defensively they hold their opponents to 63.5 points per game. The Jacks defeated the Pioneers in both meetings last season.
Guebert said she expects the Jacks to be tested on Thursday
“It is going to be a big game for us since they do play well at home,” she said. “They did give us a hard time last year at their place, but we are a different team and they are a different team from last season. We need to go into the game and play like we know we can play.”
Oral Roberts has an overall record of 10-6 and have won two of their first three Summit League games. Before taking on the Jacks on Saturday, the Golden Eagles will host NDSU Thursday. Oral Roberts is led by senior forward Faith Ihim, who is averaging 12.6 points per game. Defensively the Golden Eagles are holding their opponents to 58.3 points per game.
Miller hopes the Jacks can carry over their strong second half against the Bison into these upcoming games.
“Every road game is going to be tough,” Miller said. “We have to play like how we played in the second half of the last two games and push it into these games.”