Turnovers harm women in tight conference race

Drue Aman

Drue Aman

Another season, another split between SDSU and Oakland.

Oakland (16-12, 13-4) pulled away (17-10, 12-4) in the final minutes of the first half on Feb. 22, while the Jacks committed 27 turnovers and never caught up, losing 81-68 in Rochester, Mich.

That run in the first half was a 17-3 Grizzlies scoring streak in the final minutes that gave Oakland an 11-point halftime lead. The Jacks would only shrink the lead to eight the rest of the game.

“When you give up 27 turnovers, it’s pretty difficult to win,” said Jacks head coach Aaron Johnston during his post-game interview on 99.1 FM. “We had a lot of dumb fouls, just really clueless, dumb fouls.”

The Jacks committed 22 personal fouls, but the key stat in nearly every Jacks loss this season is the turnover battle – a battle they lost against the Grizzlies.

SDSU played well enough offensively to win, shooting nearly 50 percent from field-goal range, but failed to achieve stops on the defensive end in the second half, where Oakland shot 61 percent. Melissa Jeltema, a 5’9″ senior and second-team all-Summit League selection last season, led the Golden Grizzlies with 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the field.

“She’s a good player,” said SDSU guard Jill Young, who finished with six points in 25 minutes on the floor. “We just knew she’s been on fire lately and playing really well and being more aggressive of late. ? She basically killed us tonight.”

Jacks leading scorer Maria Boever did not take a shot in the first half and faced foul trouble early but managed to shoot 5-of-6 in the second half to finish with 11 points. But the up-tempo offensive pace of Oakland that led to 44 second-half points quelled any chances of a comeback by the Jacks.

“We just weren’t there today defensively,” said Johnston, whose team now sits in third place in the conference standings with two games remaining. “We played really out of position a lot of times. They played with just a lot more effort.”

With the loss, SDSU moves to a half-game behind Oakland for second place and a game behind Oral Roberts for first place, though Oral Roberts owns the tie-breaker if they end the season with the same conference record. Upcoming, the Jacks face IUPUI and Western Illinois – both teams with poor conference records – at Frost Arena Feb. 27 and March 1, respectively.

“Hopefully, this is a one-time deal, and we can get back to playing good basketball again,” said Johnston. “We’re going to need to play a lot better than we did here tonight.”