Xavier stops Jacks postseason run


The Jacks stayed close to the No. 2 seed for a half, but Xavier moved on.

By Marcus Traxler

Assistant Sports Editor

Too big. Too strong. Too much.

The nation’s fifth ranked team, Xavier, pulled away in the second half from the SDSU Jackrabbits 72-56 in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, ending the Jacks season in the opening round of the Big Dance for the second year in a row.

Despite keeping it close for most of the first half, the 15th-seeded Jackrabbits (19-14) shooting fell off drastically in the second half and the second-seeded Musketeers (29-2) out-muscled SDSU to pick up win on their home court.

“We played well at times but Xavier is just a really good team. You just can’t make many mistakes, you can’t have many lapses. Even if you play really good, they have good enough players to overcome how well you play,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston.

The Jacks led briefly at 6-5 just under four minutes into the game, but the Musketeers put together a 12-0 run to hold an 11-point lead midway through the first half. SDSU would fight back and pull within one point on two of Ashley Eide’s team-high 10 points at 22-21. The Jackrabbits pulled within two twice more before Xavier scored seven straight for a 39-30 halftime lead.

The winners of their last 18 games, Xavier started to pull away from the Jacks, swelling the lead to 21 points with 12 minutes left, en route to the most lopsided loss SDSU has suffered in their three trips to the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought we had a few lapses in the first half but it was the second half where we really slipped,” Johnston said. “Even when we stopped them in the second half they got another chance. That’s disheartening for a team to work hard and get a stop and all of the sudden there is an offensive rebound or layup or foul.”

Ta’Shia Phillips dominated the Jackrabbits front line all day, finishing the game with 27 points and 15 rebounds. Her fellow All-American  teammate, Amber Harris, came through with 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. The pair was the primary reason SDSU struggled to rebound at the Cintas Center, losing the category 45-26 to their first round foe.

“It’s difficult for us but at the same time we left it all out there. It’s hard to have regrets when you know you left everything out on the court,” Rotert said.

Jill Young had nine points for the Jacks and Rotert tied the school’s career three-point record with a long ball in the first half, tying the record at 250.

“It’s just great to play at SDSU. You are surrounded by a bunch of teammates that you consider your family and a bunch of coaches that you consider your family. A community that supports you no matter what is going on. It was a great four years,” Macie Michelson said.

“We’re proud that we got to be part of a group that really put SDSU on the map in Division I. Hopefully the players after us can keep that going and SDSU will continue to rise up and be a team that people recognize across NCAA Division I basketball,” Rotert said.