Despite struggles, SDSU season full of success


Of the seven seasons that South Dakota State women’s basketball has competed at the Division I level, this one was most difficult.

Losing eight of nine games from late November to late December was the second-worst nine game stretch in the 45-year history of the program, matched only by a 14-game losing streak in 1984.

The Jacks tied the record for most home losses during a season with six at Frost Arena, as many as they had during the past six seasons combined.In those six season, they went 80-6 at “the world’s largest rabbit den.”

The leading scorer for SDSU (Kristin Rotert) averaged 13.1 points per game, the lowest for a leading scorer in 18 seasons.

SDSU averaged just 67.1 points per game. The lowest total since the 1983-84 season and there was no three point shot back then.

But for anyone to say that this season was not a success would be wrong.

T­he fact remains that the Jacks won the Summit League Tournament for the third year in a row and have qualified for the NCAA tournament every single season they have been eligible. You really can’t ask for more than that.

This year’s conference title was the most special because it was the least expected of the three.

The Jackrabbit mystique is gone. No longer are teams defeated before they even walk into the building.

SDSU lost only seven Summit League contests over the 63 games they played in their first three seasons in the conference, including going 35-1 at Frost Arena and in Sioux Falls.

This season, they went just 5-4 at home in conference play and lost six Summit League contests.

IPFW head coach Chris Paul did something that would have been unthinkable the past couple of years when he stated that the Jacks didn’t want to see his team for a third time on the season at the conference tournament after SDSU pulled out 50-47 victory at Fort Wayne after losing earlier in the season at home in overtime 70-67.

Paul got his wish and SDSU edged the ‘Dons in the semis of the Summit League tournament 70-67.

The team that was poised to knock off the Jacks in Sioux Falls was Oral Roberts. Regular season conference champs for the second season in a row, the Golden Eagles were looking for revenge after losing an overtime classic last year to the Jacks in Sioux Falls.

It would have probably been another great game, but ORU didn’t get invited to the party after a surprising 34 points loss to Oakland in the semi-finals.

To be the best, you have to beat the best and no one in the Summit has been able to do that to SDSU when it matters the most.

Considering that no 15 seed in NCAA women’s tournament history has beaten at 2 seed, it would have been one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history had the Jacks knocked off Xavier. But SDSU didn’t back down as they were on the verge on taking the lead in the waning minutes of the first half before Xavier pulled away. And with two certain top-10 WNBA draft picks in 6-5 Amber Harris and the 6-6 Ta’Shia Phillips leading the way, you could make a very compelling argument that this is the best team that SDSU has ever played in women’s basketball.

Every season, SDSU has the goal of winning the Summit League tournament and one of these years, the Jacks run of conference titles will come to an end. But until it does, you can’t be anything but be proud of what these past few years have meant not only to the players, coaches and athletics as a whole, but for the entire university. Success indeed.