Jackrabbits cruise to WNIT semifinals

Marcus Traxler

Marcus TraxlerAssistant Sports Editor

Utah Valley couldn’t keep pace with the Jacks’ diverse scoring attack, winning in blowout fashion, 87-38 at Frost Arena.

With 35 percent of their scoring from last season graduating, one of the questions entering the women’s basketball season was where the Jackrabbits would look to get their points.

If Nov. 12 was any indication, every player will be help put points on the board.

Balance was certainly a key on Nov. 12, with seven Jackrabbit players scoring double-digits and the Jacks thoroughly routing Utah Valley in the first round of the Preseason WNIT, 87-38, at Frost Arena.

The Jackrabbits emphasized getting the ball into the lane early, with Leah Dietel and Jennie Sunnarborg each scoring twice on early lay-ups. SDSU opened the game on a 17-4 run and had no problem staying in front of the Wolverines, who shot 23.5 percent in the first half. Jill Young knocked down her third three pointer of the half to cap the scoring and give the Jacks a 45-19 halftime lead.

“Defensively, we were energized and able to create some turnovers and we got into a good flow offensively,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston.

“I guess these last few practices we’ve stressed a lot about effort and I think it showed early and we really pushed the ball in transition and pushed the tempo a lot,” said Dietel.

The Jackrabbits’ diverse attack continued after halftime and along with their solid play in the second half, ended the game scoring 27 of the final 33 points.

“One of the things that AJ always mentions is how we have a lot of depth on this team and that really allows us to run a lot and push it in transition and we were able to do that tonight,” said Tara Heiser, who made her Jackrabbit debut after redshirting last season.

Young led the scoring with a game-high 15 points for the Jacks. Heiser and Sunnarborg scored 14 and 12, respectively. Dietel and Ashley Eide had 11 for SDSU, with Kristin Rotert and Katie Lingle chipping in 10.

The Jackrabbits shot 59 percent from the field and were 11-for-19 on three-point field goals.

SDSU turned the ball over 20 times in the game and did have some trouble rebounding the ball, even though the Jacks held a 42-26 lead in that category. Johnston noted the Jacks’ struggles.

“We didn’t rebound the ball really well. I thought Utah Valley was probably a bit more physical than we were at times on the glass and we’ll certainly have to improve on that.”

SDSU’s play was superior to its previous performances in exhibition action and the Jackrabbits were happy to be playing in games that count.

“We’ve been waiting a while to get out and play a regular season game and so I think we were all excited to get out there and I think we put a good effort out there tonight,” Young said.

Defensively, the Jacks were led by Sunnarborg’s six blocked shots, tying a career-high. She also led SDSU with eight rebounds.

Utah Valley was led by Sammie Jensen’s 11 points in the losing effort.

SDSU is the first Summit League school to win a Preseason WNIT game, with the event in its 17th year.

“I think this event is tough and you look at the teams that are in it and I think that is a real credit to our team and the direction we’re trying to go,” Johnston said.