It was not quite the mismatch it seemed like it would be on paper, but the team with 12 scholarship players eventually pulled away from the team with just seven.
The South Dakota State women led by just two at the break but pulled away in the second half, posting a 64-48 victory over North Dakota State on Jan. 24 in front of a season-high 4,491 spectators at Frost Arena.
The win over the Bison was the seventh straight for the Jacks (19-2, 8-1) between the two rivals, but this one seemed much closer than the other six.
NDSU was able to keep the Jacks from making one of their patented big runs, keeping within striking distance until the Jacks were able to use their depth to slowly pull away from the free-throw line; the Jacks did not hit from the floor in the final 9 minutes and 50 seconds. The shooting woes of the Jacks did not help, as SDSU shot just 32 percent, missing a wide variety of shots, anything from 3-pointers to layups.
“We missed a lot of layups and open threes, too,” said head coach Aaron Johnston. “It wasn’t necessarily completely difficult to get shots, but one thing (the Bison) have always done well is they contest and challenge shots. They’re long; they play very hard on the ball. We never really moved the ball well enough to get a shot that wasn’t completely uncontested.”
The Jacks were able to put the game away from the free-throw line, as they scored their final 15 points from the stripe.
“This wasn’t a real pretty game,” said Johnston, “but North Dakota State really did a good job making it difficult for us to get comfortable on offense. I thought North Dakota State played exceptionally well.”
Jennifer Warkenthien again paced the Jacks. The senior from Willow Lake had game highs in points with 26 and rebounds with 13. Warkenthien was the only player for the Jacks to score in double digits this game, the first time the Jacks have only had one player break 10 points this year.
The game might not have been pretty, but the Jacks came away with something they like – a win.
“I guess you could finish the game and think we didn’t quite play exactly the way we would have liked, but a win is a win, and at this point, any win is a good win,” Warkenthien said. “There’s a lot we can take from this game and build off.”
The Jacks return to action Jan. 31 against Oakland and Feb. 2 against IPFW. Both games are at Frost Arena, with the Oakland game scheduled for a 5 p.m. tip and the IPFW game for a 7 p.m. start.