Cowgirls prove to be the final foes for Jackrabbits in WNIT

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

As she ran off the court for the last time in her college career, senior Megan Vogel pointed to her loyal fans one last time, acknowledging all of the support and love she has received throughout her tenure as a Jackrabbit basketball player.

The determination Vogel has shown throughout her career could not pull the Jackrabbits to victory, though, as they lost, 70-59, to the University of Wyoming Cowgirls.

Too many mental lapses cost the Jacks a winnable game said SDSU Head Coach Aarong Johnston.

“They (the Cowgirls) are a great, great basketball team. Probably one of the better teams we’ve played this year, and when you put a good team in this environment, you just can’t have any mental lapses, and we had too many of them,” he said. “We just absolutely, I think, didn’t have the toughness we really need(ed) to have to play in this kind of atmosphere and beat a good team like Wyoming.”

SDSU started the game strong. Johnston thought his team controlled the game in the beginning, but mental breakdowns led to 12 points in two minutes and one second for the Cowgirls, turning a five-point Jackrabbit lead into five-point Cowgirl lead.

“Nine of those points came on mental breakdowns,” Johnston said.

The Jackrabbits closed to within three at halftime, trailing 30-27.

The beginning of the second half doomed the Jackrabbits. SDSU failed to hit a field goal during the first 11 minutes and 38 seconds of the second half.

“We needed to control probably the first ten minutes (of the second half), and we didn’t do that,” Vogel said.

Freshman forward Ketty Cornemann hit the Jacks’ first field goal, a 3-pointer, snapping a 16-0 run by the Cowgirls. SDSU failed to hit a field goal in the final three minutes and 44 seconds of the first half, totaling 15 minutes and 22 seconds without a field goal.

“Give credit to Wyoming. They were a good team. They had a good defensive scheme going against us. We played our hearts out. There’s no question we did everything we could to score, but it just wasn’t our night tonight,” Vogel said.

After the Cowgirls’ 16-0 run, SDSU would get no closer than eight points the rest of the game.

Wyoming sank free throw after free throw to ice the game, scoring their final 13 points from the free-throw line.

With 44 seconds remaining in the game, Vogel ended her Jackrabbit career by fouling out of the game.

“I knew I had to foul. It wasn’t a question of whether I wanted to stay on the floor or not. I had to do whatever it took to make sure our team had any chance of winning, and if that meant fouling and coming out of the game, that had to be done. It’s a bummer to come off, but I played my heart out and I’ll look back on it and I won’t have any regrets,” Vogel said.

Poor shooting plagued the Jackrabbits yet again. SDSU hit only 38 percent of their shots.

“We couldn’t quite just find our groove (offensively),” Cornemann said.

Vogel tried to carry the team offensively, but her shooting struggles mirrored those of her team. The senior forward missed all four of her 3-pointers, and shot only 4-14 from the floor. Vogel did lead the team in scoring though, tallying 19 points in her final game.

With the offensive struggling, the Jacks needed to rely on their tough defense to secure the victory. After giving up an average of 50.5 points the previous two WNIT games, the Jacks did not play as well defensively and gave up 70 points.

“We just needed to play better defense tonight. We didn’t do enough to get the job done,” Vogel said.

In contrast to the past two tourney games, where the Jackrabbits had almost 6,000 fans cheering for them, they played Sunday in front of 11,253 fans – most cheering against them.

“When you get down in those types of environments, you have to come back right away. You have to keep plugging away at every play and I think we just got down and got our heads down and it was a real struggle to come back then,” junior center Courtney Grimsrud said.

Although the loss was tough to take, the players can take comfort in having such a successful year. Johnston said this season was huge for the women’s basketball program, possibly even bigger than the Division-II national championship in 2003.

Cornemann said “This season gave us a lot of confidence, being Division-I and having so much success,”

“We’re all just really motivated and excited about next year.”

#1.883568:3078479183.jpg:sdsuvswyoming.el.jpg:Senior Megan Vogel drives around a Cowgirl during the WNIT game against Wyoming March 25.:Eric Landwehr/University Relations