SDSU earns Summit league championships with victory

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

After beating their border rival for the sixth time in a row, winning at least a tie in the first season ever in the Summit League and winning their 20th game in a row in front of a season high crowd, the Lady Jacks basketball team had some fun.

Players took turns throwing yellow mini-balls into the crowd, the yellow balls showcased the new mascot.

All in a day’s work for the team that increased their win streak to 10 with an 81-61 victory over North Dakota State University in front of 4,377 fans.

With sixteen minutes left in the first half, Bison point guard Lisa Bue had as many points (4) as SDSU had, but that was the only time the Bison had the lead, as the Jacks held NDSU to only 22 points in the first half. The Bison only scored seven points in the final eight minutes of the first half.

The Bison players claimed the pressure SDSU dealt was not the reason why they shot below 25 percent in the first half. “The ball just wasn’t going in the hoop,” said Bue. “They had two girls over 20 points, and it’s tough to beat a team when they have two girls over 20 points.”

Willow Lake native Jenn Warkenthien scored 23 points and recorded her third career double-double. SDSU sophomore Ketty Cornemann scored 14 points in the closing minutes of the second half to give her a career-high for points.

The Jacks also earned their 20th consecutive win at home even without their third leading scorer, Kristin Rotert. Rotert missed the game due to an injury that happened against the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Head Coach Aaron Johnston explained there was some line-up shuffle and everyone needed to step up a little more.

The fifth largest crowd in SDSU history saw a team that is on a mission. The Jacks were getting it done on the offensive side, with Macie Michelson, who had a Jordan-esque old-fashioned 3-point play, putting the Jacks ahead by seven points, Michelson gave energy to her team as a whole. She ended the night with 11 points and an impressive night on defense.

The Jacks know what wins ballgames. “It’s just taking pride in your defense” said Warkenthien.

At times, NDSU seemed over-matched, and it seemed that Bue was the only player that was seen as a threat for the Bison. Bue lead the Bison with 25 points and had 11 at half; no other Lady Bison had over three points in the first half.

“She was the only one who matched them as far as doing some scoring for us,” said NDSU Head Coach Amy Ruley.

Besides Bue, the Bison were 4 of 26 and experienced foul trouble from their post players, making it difficult to keep up with the Jacks, especially when they did not miss a free throw in the first half.

SDSU improved to a league-best 20-6 and 14-2 in the Summit League, while NDSU with the loss dropped to 15-11 overall and 10-6 in the League.

With the win, SDSU clinched at least a share of the Summit League championship.

“I think anytime you win a conference championship it should be very significant,” said Johnston. “I think sharing is a great idea when you’re in kindergarten, but we’d like to try and not share it next week.”

Johnston got his wish of winning an out-right Summit League championionship when Western Illinois University lost to Oakland (Mich) University, 66-62, in Rochester, Mich. The loss ensures that Johnston will not need to share the championship and gives him his first title since 2004, the last time the Jacks were in a league.

The Jacks look to close out the season with Centenary College on March 1 and Oral Roberts on March 3, both at 7 p.m. at home.