Jacks fall to ranked Virginia in Junkanoo Jam Championship

Zach Anderson

Zach Anderson

The women’s basketball team fell to its fourth loss of the season to No. 15-ranked Virginia 78-66 in the Junkanoo Jam Reef Division Tournament Championship on Nov. 27.

Three Jackrabbits – Maria Boever, Steph Paluch and Kristin Rotert – led the team with 14 points each, but it wouldn’t be enough to get the victory at Grand Bahama Island.

SDSU had a 28-20 lead with 6:22 left in the first half after Paluch hit a 3-pointer. Paluch finished the game 3-of-3 from the 3-point line.

“It was good to see Steph Paluch and Cala Westergard give us good minutes,” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said. “Both are young players with bright futures.”

Westergard played 12 minutes in the game, recording three points and three rebounds.

Late in first half, Virginia went on a 19-6 run and went into the locker room with a 39-34 halftime lead.

The Jacks wouldn’t be able to get closer than six points after the Cavaliers made the first six points after intermission.

“We made enough shots in the first half to cover up some turnovers, but in the second half they caught up with us,” Johnston said. “We played very hard and competed very well, just made too many mistakes.”

A bright spot for the Jacks was that they held Virginia’s All-American candidate Monica Wright to eight points. While Wright struggled, her teammate Paulisha Kellum stepped up to score a game-high 25 points.

“We did a good job of taking away their All-American, but Kellum ended up hurting us instead,” Johnston said. “She took advantage of our smaller guards in the post, and she rebounded well.”

SDSU out-rebounded Virginia 37-35 in the defeat. The loss moves the Jacks to 2-4 on the season, while Virginia moves to 5-1.

“Quite simply, we need to play better in all phases of our game,” Johnston said. “It is not that we have a bunch of big errors to correct, it is just a combination of little things that keep holding us back. I am excited to see how we respond to some adversity in the loss column.”

Up next for the Jacks will be a matchup with Western Illinois on Dec. 5 in Macomb, Ill.