Jacks to take court against tough Utah Utes opponent

Zach Perry

Zach Perry

Inconsistency and turnovers have plagued the SDSU women’s basketball team in the first two games of the season, yet the Jackrabbits find themselves 2-0.

The Jacks will look to continue their winning ways on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. against the Utah Utes in Frost Arena in a clash of two teams picked to win their respective conferences.

The Jacks are in the Summit League, while Utah is picked to win the Moutain West Conference.

This season, the Jacks’ offense has been a roller coaster of unpredictability.

Against Missouri, SDSU shot just 16 percent in the first half and went 1-of-16 (6.3 percent) from the 3-point line for the game.

Against Wisconsin on Nov. 17, the Jackrabbits scorched the nets in the first half, converting nearly 73 percent of their shots – including 6-of-7 from long range (from behind the arc) -only to shoot a mere 20 percent in the second half.

The Jacks have also turned the ball over 41 times in the first two games.

Through the first two games, the Jacks have featured a balanced offense with no one player really breaking out in the scoring category.

Against Wisconsin, Macie Michelson and Stacie Oistad each tallied 11 to lead the Jacks. Eight players combined for the remaining 42 points.

On the flip side, SDSU’s defense has been stifling as the Jackrabbits’ opponents have shot just over 36 percent. SDSU will need to continue the strong defense and find some offensive stability to come out ahead in this match-up with a tough Utah squad.

The Utes (1-0) return three starters from last year’s team, which went 16-0 in the Mountain West Conference. Prior to last season, no MWC team had ever won all 16 conference games.

Utah will be led by senior guard Morgan Warburton and junior forward Kalee Whipple. Warburton was selected as the MWC Preseason Player of the Year, and both Warburton and Whipple are members of the preseason all-MWC team.

In Utah’s 77-49 win over Jackson State, Warburton led Utah with 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Whipple recorded 16 points and five rebounds.

Utah sophomore center Katie King added 15 points.

Perhaps Utah’s biggest question mark is at the point guard where two true freshmen – Hannah Stephens and Janita Badon – will be asked to fill the void left by the graduation of Leilani Mitchell, who was subsequently drafted by the New York Liberty of the WNBA.

Both Stephens and Badon played significant minutes in Utah’s first game and each had five assists but replacing a professional-caliber player is a challenge.

Another concern for Utah is their lack of depth. With Hennasea Tokumura, Sasha McKinnon and Josi McDermott all out with injury, the Utes will play with only nine players.

Utah made the NCAA Tournament as an eight seed last year as an at-large team.

This will be quite possibly the biggest test for the Jackrabbits this week, as a Pac-Ten team in Oregon comes to Frost Arena on Nov. 23 at 2 p.m.