Jacks women overcome slow start, beat SUU

Chris Mangan

Chris Mangan

It was a tale of two halves for the South Dakota State women’s basketball team on Jan. 17.

The Jacks used a strong second half to cruise to an easy 87-50 victory over Southern Utah in Cedar City, Utah.

The Jacks (17-2, 6-1) shot 75 percent from the floor in the second half, including starting the half on a 24-3 run to blow open a five-point halftime lead.

“The first half we played hard, but we didn’t have urgency,” said Jackrabbit head coach, Aaron Johnston. “It was a really average first half; the second half we were more focused.”

The Thunderbirds shot 37 percent from the floor in the first half and trailed 33-28 at half. Southern Utah was only the second conference opponent that put up more than 20 points on the Jacks in the first half, with the other time being in the only conference loss for the Jacks, a 67-51 setback at the hands of Oakland. This time faired much better for the Jacks.

The Jacks scored the first 12 points of the second half, with Jennifer Warkenthien leading the way. The senior from Willow Lake scored seven of her game high and season high 28 in the 12-0 run to start the half.

“We tried to take some things away from them, and we did in the first half,” Thunderbirds coach Kit Janes said. “They found what worked for them. (Warkenthien) is a great player, as all of them are.”

After a three-point play by the Thunderbirds’ Anne Westwood-Higbee, the Jacks strung together another 12-0 run to effectively put the game away.

It took awhile for the Jacks to get going; SDSU trailed 19-15 after 10 minutes. The Jacks took control of the game in the next four-and-a-half minutes; SDSU went on a 14-2 to take the lead for good.

“That’s something we need to do every game,” Warkenthien said. “Be focused, intense and come out ready to play.”

The 32-5 run that spanned the halves was the team’s 24th double-digit run of the season and may have been their most decisive of the season.

Kristin Rotert added 12 points for the Jacks while Jill Young and Ketty Cornemann had 10 each to go along with Warkenthien’s 28. Westwood-Higbee and Caitlyn Sears were the only Southern Utah players to score in double-digits, with Westwood-Higbee scoring 20 and Sears adding 13.