Marcus Traxler Assistant Sports Editor
Only the result was lovely for the Jacks on Valentines’ Day.
That will be just fine for SDSU’s seniors.
In what can be best described as a “physical affair,” the Jackrabbits held off a late rally and finished off IUPUI in a 62-47 win on Senior Night at Frost Arena.
The Jacks honored their seniors by epitomizing what most of their wins this year have been like: tough, hard nosed, and nerve racking.
SDSU (13-13, 9-6) never pulled away from IUPUI until the second half. The Jaguars (3-21, 1-13) were able to keep the first half close, before the Jackrabbits pulled away for a 14-point lead to close the half. IUPUI was able to post an 11-0 run with just over six minutes left in the game, pulling to within 48-41. The Jackrabbits finally got back to what has been their strength all season, finding Jennie Sunnarborg and Katie Lingle inside to help put the game away on a 12-4 run.
“It was a good experience,” said senior Macie Michelson. “We knew we had to come out and play hard and lay it all out on the line. It was the last time playing in Frost, so we had to come up with a big win.”
The largest benefit of the win probably will be a mental boost, as SDSU moved back to .500 for the first time since Dec. 7, when they moved to 4-4 with a road win at Washington State.
“I thought that was important. We talked about it and they certainly had the ability to be a .500 or better team and our program has had a long history of success, so getting there was important. Staying there is going to be a big challenge though, with the next three on the road against good teams,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston.
Games at Oakland, IPFW, and NDSU to end the regular season could be a daunting task to a young team but the seasoned Jacks don’t seem worried at all, especially after winning four of the last five.
“I’m really excited to go on the road and play those teams. I think it’s going to be a good test for us. If we’re going to put together a three game stretch and compete for the Summit League championship, we’re going to find some toughness,” Rotert said.
Sunnarborg finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Rotert and Lingle had 13 and 11 apiece.
“We’ve got to go out and prove that we can beat teams in the top half of our league and so far we haven’t done that, so I’m excited that we’ve got three opportunities to get that done before the tournament,” Johnston said.
Johnston knows SDSU will lean upon his seniors heavily down the stretch.
“It’s just a really poised group of seniors. They don’t get overly emotional. They’ve always been kinda even-keel and I think our team responded to that well.”