NDSU shocks Jackrabbits

Marcus Traxler

Marcus TraxlerAssistant Sports Editor

Going into last weekend’s game, the thought was that the SDSU Jackrabbit women’s basketball team would quell any questions about their play by returning to Brookings and playing well.

Upon losing to North Dakota State, there are more questions than answers.

The Bison, behind standout guard play, knocked off the Jackrabbits at Frost Arena, 78-71, giving NDSU their first win over SDSU in 10 tries on Dec. 4th.

NDSU hadn’t played the Jackrabbits within 10 points in the last five years and beat SDSU with sharpshooting from three-point land and clutch buckets. The result left many of the 3,855 fans on hand shocked.

The game started out close until the Bison rattled off seven of the next nine points, building a 20-13 lead. SDSU would charge back, tying the game behind a Macie Michelson three-pointer at 22-22. The emotion wouldn’t last long as NDSU three-pointers from Abby Plucker and Hannah Linz vaulted the Bison out to a 34-22 lead. Jennie Sunnarborg would score the final five points of the half, cutting the lead to 34-29 at halftime.

The start of the second half consisted of trading baskets between the Bison and Jacks. Danielle DeGagne’s three-pointer swelled the lead to 62-52 for NDSU. Steph Paluch had a three-pointer, while made free throws from Jill Young and Kristin Rotert pulled the Jacks to within three. Paluch delivered with another lay-up bringing SDSU to 65-64.

SDSU would find a way to tie the game with 3:03 left in the game with a Rotert free throw, evening the game at 65. However, the Bison would quickly blow the game open with a 10-1 run powered by eight free throws down the stretch, salting the game away. The loss marked only the second time that the Jackrabbits have lost a Summit League game at home.

“We’re just not playing good basketball right now. We were just not in the game for long stretches of time. They kind of did whatever they wanted to and we let them do whatever they wanted to,” said Rotert.

Sunnarborg led the Jacks (3-4, 0-1 Summit) with 20 points, but didn’t get a ton of help. Michelson pitched in 13 points and Rotert added 9, but SDSU, shooting just 42.6 percent, left plenty to be desired.

“I thought our team lacked that fire and aggressiveness and NDSU had it. I’m not overly disappointed in our team’s effort … we just didn’t make enough plays to win,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston.

DeGagne led all scorers with 24 points for the Bison (4-3, 1-0 Summit). Katie Birkel, who made the Nancy Leiberman Award watch list as one of the nation’s top point guards, proved her worth with 21 points for the Bison (4-3, 1-0 Summit). Katie Birkel, who made the Nancy Leiberman Award watch list as one of the nation’s top point guards, proved her worth with 21 points and six assists for NDSU.

“We just didn’t defend very well tonight. “We didn’t handle penetration very well and the tempo of the game was definitely in their favor,” said Johnston.

Johnston recognized that they had an advantage inside against the Bison front line but failed to use it to the extent of picking up a victory.

“I thought we had an advantage inside. We had a mismatch at the post postion inside the entire game and we talked about it. We never did a good enough job getting it inside.”

SDSU was never really able to control the pace of the game as the Bison were able to setup in the half-court and shut down the few opportunities that the Jackrabbits had to run off of a Bison error.

The Jacks were able to limit their turnovers to 14 – which plagued them at Middle Tennessee State – but it led to a defeat, one that Rotert says is not likely to leave the minds of the players soon.

“I think this one is going to be in our minds for quite a while. I’m not sure it will ever really leave our minds.”

#1.1825126:1998738188.jpg:Aaron Stoneberger 8.jpg:Jennie Sunnarborg drives to the hoop in the first half of SDSU?s 78-71 loss to NDSU.:Collegian Photo by Aaron Stoneberger