Jackrabbits exact revenge on Grizzlies

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

The SDSU women’s basketball team is alone at the top.

The Jacks took sole possession of the Summit League lead and avenged their only conference loss with a 88-75 victory over Oakland on Jan. 31 in front of a season-high 5,637 at Frost Arena.

Oakland jumped out to a 33-15 lead back on Jan. 5, but the rematch was much different. The Jacks used a strong first half by senior Jennifer Warkenthien to build a 44-32 lead at intermission; Warkenthien scored 19 of her game high 29 in the first half.

The Willow Lake native felt like the Jacks came out with “the mentality to be the aggressive ones.

“In the first half, we just came out determined,” Warkenthien said. “After the last game, we knew we couldn’t just show up. We were going to get killed if we did that like we did last game.”

The game never felt like a sure thing for the Jacks even though they only trailed at 2-0 and led by at least eight the whole second half. The defense struggled, allowing the Grizzlies to shoot close to 47 percent, but for every run Oakland made, the Jackrabbits answered.

“Offensively, we played well enough to (win) but defensively, we didn’t,” Jackrabbit head coach Aaron Johnston said. “We just didn’t get enough stops. We gave up some, I thought, really easy shots. We’ll get better at that.”

Neither team was exceptional on defense, though, as the Jacks shot over 44 percent themselves. But SDSU struggled from the free-throw line, shooting just 24-of-38, and missed 10 from the charity stripe in the second half when they had a chance to pull away.

“We just didn’t make them,” Johnston said. “We had good shooters up there. ? We had great free-throw shooters shooting them; we just didn’t make them.”

The revenge word was being thrown around earlier in the week, and while Johnston said “there isn’t a team they have to prove themselves to,” Warkenthien felt revenge played a factor in the motivation of the Jacks.

“Any time you play someone twice in the same season, you remember how you play against them the first time,” Warkenthien said. “Whether you beat them by 50 or lost by 18, you’re going to remember how it went and do a lot better. The fact we did not play well the first game really played a factor.”

Even though the Jacks are sitting at the top of the Summit League, they know they need to continue getting better or the only place they can go is down.

“We need to continue to improve,” Warkenthien said. “We can’t settle for just being at the top. We get a loss, and we’re tied again. Ultimately, it’s in our control.”

#1.881961:1062852583.JPG:DSC_0355.JPG:(L to R) Seniors Kelsey Wick and Jessica Rozeboom join the crowd with enthusiastic cheers during the Jacks’ second-half comeback against Oakland on Jan 31.:Ethan Swanson