Jackrabbits road woes continue

Marcus Traxler

Marcus TraxlerAssistant Sports Editor

If every game has a story, Middle Tennessee State made sure they would control every word.

SDSU was on the wrong end of a 19-0 run to open the game and committed a school-record 38 turnovers in Murfreesboro, Tenn., as Middle Tennessee State pounded the Jackrabbits, 70-51 on Nov. 28.

The two squads met in a matchup that pitted two of the top mid-majors in women’s college basketball, but the game proved to be anything but close.

MTSU dominated the beginning of the game on offense, scoring the opening 19 points before Kristin Rotert knocked down a three-pointer nine minutes into the game. The Blue Raiders controlled the pace when the Jacks had the ball, suffocating SDSU with their full-court pressure. At one point in the first half the Jacks had turned the ball over 12 consecutive times. Icelyn Elie’s runner from the left side beat the horn and MTSU carried a 35-22 lead into halftime.

“Turnovers were absolutely the story of the game for us. We just did not get into our offense at all the first 10 minutes of the game,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston in his postgame radio interview.

The Jacks faced more of the same in the second half and struggled to keep pace with MTSU’s scoring attack, as the lead swelled to 18 with 16 minutes left. Megan Waytashek helped lead a response with back-to-back baskets as a part of a 8-0 run and the Jacks creeped within 12. MTSU put the game away with one more run, led by Anne Marie Lanning’s two three-pointers to help put the Blue Raiders up by 21, before finally settling on the game’s 19 point end margin.

“[MTSU] came out tougher and we were not able to handle it,” Steph Paluch said. “We knew we could chip away slowly and we started to but then we fell apart again. Their pressure got to us.”

Kristin Rotert had a game-high 18 points for the Jacks (3-2) and was the only SDSU player in double-figures. Megan Waytashek had nine points and six rebounds coming off of the bench. Macie Michelson made her first start of the season after recovering from foot surgery, playing 12 minutes without scoring.

Tina Stewart led the Blue Raiders (4-1) with 15 points in the winning effort and Ebony Rowe added 14. Elie and Lanning each had 12 points for MTSU, who tallied 20 steals in the matinee.

SDSU’s 38 turnovers are easily the most the Jackrabbits have had since moving to Division I in 2005. The Jacks’ guard combo of Michelson and Jill Young did not fare well under the heavy pressure, combining for 16 turnovers.

“Our team has to play with a little more mental poise. We were rattled out there and it cost us big with the turnovers,” said Johnston. “Just focusing on our turnovers, we have had a tremendous amount of turnovers and need to do a better job of taking care of the ball,” Paluch said.

#1.1814416:4161860286.png:Kristin-Rotert-look-at-this-one-Ryan.png:Kristin Rotert examines the defense in a game earlier this season at Frost Arena. Rotert finished with 18 points.:Collegian Photo by Ryan Robinson