Jacks Clobber Thunderbirds

Drue Aman

Marcus TraxlerAssistant Sports Editor

When it’s crunch time, teams go to players they can rely on. The SDSU women’s basketball team might finally have some suitors for that role.

In a season where points have not always been plentiful, the Jackrabbits saw their leading players carry the way on Jan. 29 against Southern Utah, leading to a 81-61 Pork Classic victory.

Jill Young, Kristin Rotert, and Jennie Sunnarborg combined for 60 points and the Jacks (9-12, 5-5) pulled away from the Thunderbirds (11-10, 5-5) in the second half, which hasn’t happened often. The win was only the second home conference win of the season.

Each of the Jacks’ double-figure scorers had a unique impact on the game. Young drilled a trio of first half three-pointers and finished the game with 18 points, off of five three-pointers. Rotert had a relatively quiet first half before coming up with 12 of her 19 points in the second half. Sunnarborg was the most consistent throughout the game, providing a game-high 23 points from the inside.

In the area that has proved to be the tipping point for the Jackrabbits this season – turnovers – SDSU only had 11, a mark that ties a season-low.

“We’re a pretty good team when we take care of the ball. We’ve had some issues with taking care of the ball and it’s really cost us. It’s something we’ve really got to do a better job on consistently because little turnovers can be what cost you the game,” Rotert said.

The Jacks cranked up the effort and no play showed that more than a terrific steal and save near the sideline in the second half by Steph Paluch, launching a pinpoint pass to Macie Michelson for the most impressive pair of points on the night.

“We like steals, we like defensive energy plays. Steph is a strong explosive player and that was important for us because Southern Utah was making a little bit of a run and that was a good energy play in our favor,” said SDSU women’s coach Aaron Johnston.

The play stretched the lead to 14 points with just over eight minutes to play and essentially ended any thoughts of a comeback for Southern Utah.

“I think we’ve got a really good group of upperclassmen but we haven’t played like it and ultimately the responsibility falls on our shoulders. We have to do a better job of setting the tone and getting our team going,” Rotert said.

Southern Utah standout Challis Pacucci scored 19 points and had 14 rebounds.

“It felt really great. This is really what we needed to kick start our team in the second half of the conference season and really build some momentum for going on the road next weekend,” Rotert said.

“It’s our time to step up and help carry this team.” Young said.

#1.1960137:3347586493.png:suu-wbb-TURNER.png:Katie Lingle defends a Southern Utah player in the first half of SDSU?s 81-61 win on Jan. 29:Collegian Photo by Andrew Turner