Shake-ups in the Summit League

Travis Kriens

Travis KriensSummit Leaguer

Sports are funny the way they work sometimes.

That’s part of the appeal of them to me: just when you think you have it all figured out, something happens to change the outlook of the whole thing.

The Oral Roberts women’s basketball team was considered the favorite to win the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls in early March, for good reason. They entered the weekend undefeated in league play, lost to South Dakota State in overtime of last year’s championship and have the best player in the league in sophomore Kevi Luper (who might win Player of the Year honors in the league for all her four years if she keeps up her current pace). But then a wrench was thrown into their machine last Saturday, Feb. 12.

The Golden Eagles (or should I say hen-eagle or an eagless to be totally correct) lost at Southern Utah, 101-93. ORU was down for the majority of the game and couldn’t complete the comeback from 18 down midway through the first half.

The bigger story is the loss of sophomore Jaci Bigham, an All-Summit League first teamer as a freshman last season. Bigham suffered a knee injury in the second half and is expected to miss the rest of the year. The seemingly unbeatable Golden Eagles now have a chink in their armor along with the loss of one of their best three players along with Luper and junior Jordan Pyle.

Even before the injury, I thought it would be very difficult for any team to knock off ORU in Sioux Falls, but the only team I thought had a chance was the Jacks.

Now after this latest injury and SDSU showing that they could hang with ORU on the road earlier this month (even though they had only three bench players), it sets the stage for another Oral Roberts/SDSU showdown in Sioux Falls.

Oral Roberts has won the last four regular season meetings between the two teams with the lone Jackrabbit win coming in the most important game, last season’s Summit League Championship overtime classic.

SDSU has battled injuries all season long, but they seem to be as close to 100 percent as they will get in the final two weeks of the season. While their wins are not as spectacular as we have been accustomed to witnessing these past few years, they are wins nonetheless.

The Jacks have won five of their last six, a streak only matched during the first six games of this season, with three tough road games at Oakland, IPFW and North Dakota State to close out the regular season schedule.

The two previous seasons that SDSU has been in the Summit League Tournament, the Jacks ended ORU’s season. I just hope they get a chance to do it again in three weeks when it really matters again.