SDSU downs ndsu in dominating fashion

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

With a week left before the Summit League Tournament, the SDSU women’s basketball team sent a huge message to the rest of the conference: they are peaking heading into Sioux Falls.

The Jacks (26-2, 15-1) held North Dakota State to just 14 points in the first half en route to an easy 70-36 victory over the Bison on Feb. 21; the win was the eighth straight for the Jacks over the Bison.

The first meeting between the two schools was close before the Jacks were able to pull away mid-way through the second half. The rematch was not as close.

The Bison drew first blood, but the Jacks went on a 18-4 run to help build a double digit lead they would keep for the rest of the game.

“Defensively, we were really good, except for a couple lapses in the first half,” Jackrabbit head coach Aaron Johnston said. “Our team is really building towards the end of the season. I’m really proud of the fact that we are continuing to get better. We tried to play our starters a little bit more to get them ready for the end of the season. It was a really good performance.”

Defense was the name of the game for the Jacks. The 14 points by NDSU in the first half was the lowest by the Bison this season, and the 36 total points tied for their lowest since moving to Division I. The Bison matched turnover for points in the first half, as the Jacks forced 14 NDSU turnovers in the first and 21 for the game.

“They are strong, they are physical, they will body up and they are good at knowing when to switch and when not to,” NDSU coach Carolyn DeHoff said. “They are also great at their back side defensive help. They also finish on the boards; they got 31 defensive rebounds, so they clean the glass.”

Not everything was done on the defensive end. Three players scored in double figures for the Jacks, led by senior Jennifer Warkenthien’s 14 points. Five other Jackrabbit players scored at least six points.

“We worked really hard this past week and talked about how defense will propel the offense,” Warkenthien said. “Going into someone else’s gym in a big rivalry game, we wanted to set the tone both offensively and defensively, and I think we did a good job with that.”

The win also put the Jacks in position to clinch at least a share of the Summit League title when they take on last-place Centenary on Feb. 28. The Jacks finish up the regular season portion of conference play when they take on Oral Roberts on March 2.

“Our motivation right now is to win the conference and get that number one seed and repeat as conference champs, which has been our goal since the beginning,” Stacie Oistad said. “Right now our goal is not not to lose, it’s just to be better.”

A 34-point win over the third-place team in the conference, and the Jacks are looking to improve; that may be a scary thought for the rest of the Summit League.