In a night when the SDSU women’s basketball team struggled getting anything to fall from the outside for a half, the frontcourt players stepped up.
Jennifer Warkenthien and Maria Boever combined for 37 points, as the Jacks downed IUPUI 64-48 on Feb. 9 in Indianapolis. The Jacks’ second-leading scorer, Ketty Cornemann, did not score, yet SDSU was able to pull away in the second half thanks to a 14-2 run.
The Jacks (23-2, 12-1) were able to sweep a road trip against two teams, Western Illinois and IUPUI, which were a combined 8-1 before the weekend.
“These are hard places to play and against good teams,” said Jacks head coach Aaron Johnston. “To win two comfortably says a lot.”
Boever and Warkenthien scored a combined 24 of the Jacks’ 36 first-half points. In the second half, the outside game finally got going.
With the Jaguars able to close the gap to two points twice in the second half, Boever and Macie Michelson made sure they did not get any closer. The first time, with the Jacks ahead 36-34, Boever hit a layup to push the lead back to four. A minute later, with the spread again at two, Michelson hit a 3-pointer, pushing the lead to five.
SDSU slowly built on that lead the rest of the half. Michelson and Kristin Rotert, who had been struggling, combined for 15 of the team’s 28 points in the second half.
“It’s a matter of believing in myself,” said Rotert. “I know my teammates believe in me, and I have to play with confidence and know that every time I shoot it’s going to go in.”
The defense came to play, as well.
IUPUI did not score in the final 10 minutes of the game, and the Jacks held the Jags to just 19 points in the second half, two days after they gave up 11 in the second half against Western Illinois.
“For 30 minutes, we hung right with them,” IUPUI head coach Shann Hart said. “I felt like our energy was good, especially coming out in the second half. We could just never get over that last part of the comeback to really give ourselves a chance at the end, though.”
IUPUI shot 14 more free throws than the Jacks and out-rebounded SDSU 39-31, but it did not matter, as the Jacks defense helped them prevail. The Jags’ top two players, Jernisha Cann and Julia Whitted, struggled in the second half, scoring just four points after putting up a combined 18 in the first half.
“Our defense is what’s going to win us games, especially on the road and especially come time for the conference tournament and hopefully the NCAA tournament, too,” said Rotert.
The Jacks return to action Feb. 14 when they host UMKC with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m. The final home game of the season is on Feb. 16 when the Jacks host Southern Utah with the opening tap at 7 p.m.