Women’s domination of opponents continues

Kirk Danielson

Kirk Danielson

Even brisk February winds cannot cool down the Jackrabbit women’s basketball team. The team has won seven games in a row, and those big wins this week may have helped the directors of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament take notice of the Jacks.

This week, an assistant director from the WNIT contacted Head Coach Aaron Johnston, informing him that SDSU is being considered one of 17 at-large bids to the tournament. Johnston said the call was no big deal.

“We just confirmed that we’re being considered for the WNIT, which is nothing surprising, nothing new. It’s something that they do to all the teams in their field of candidates just to let them know,” he said. “It’s positive to know they’re aware of what we’ve done so far.”

Blowout victories over the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, where the Jacks outscored the two teams by a combined 118 points, may have helped SDSU’s tournament hopes, but Johnston doesn’t think the impressive victories carry much weight.

“I think the WNIT group is going to look at our whole body of work. They certainly want teams that are playing good basketball at the end of the year. If we continue to play well, I think that helps them to see that we are still playing our best basketball now.”

Looking to add to their current win streak, the Jackrabbits have two home games this week. Thursday, the team hosts Texas Pan-American. Three weeks ago, the Jacks overcame a halftime deficit to defeat the Broncos, 64-52, in Edinburg, Texas.

Two days before the Texas Pan-Am game, the Jackrabbits won a thriller against Utah Valley State, 79-78, clinching the victory on a pair of free throws by Megan Vogel. The Jackrabbits and Utah Valley State meet Feb. 17 at Frost Arena.

Coach Johnston talked about the advantages of being able to play in Frost Arena during the upcoming games.

“I think being at home has really helped. We’ve always been a good team at home. I think the home crowd has something to do with that. The environment, and being familiar with everything, is a big part of that.”

This past week, SDSU gave the hometown crowd something to really cheer about. On Feb. 8, the Jacks crushed NJIT, 96-30. In the 66-point victory, four Jackrabbits finished in double figures. Vogel led the way with 25 points and eight rebounds in only 22 minutes. Other Jackrabbit top performances were by freshmen Abby Kratovil and Maria Boever, with 13 and 12 points respectively. Junior Jennifer Warkenthien added 11 points in the contest.

A crowd of more than 2,500 watched the Jacks down Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, 103-51, on Feb. 10. The Jackrabbits set season highs for points, field goals and assists in the rout. Vogel scored a career-high 32 points and topped 20 points for the 13th time this season. Boever also put in a career-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, shooting 10-11 from the free-throw line. In the game, junior Courtney Grimsrud recorded four blocked shots to move into 10th place all-time at SDSU.

The Jacks had several individuals receive recognition for the team’s outstanding performances for the past week. Vogel and Boever were honored with Division-I Independent awards. Vogel averaged 28.5 points and five rebounds a game and was awarded player of the week for the third time this season. Boever also received the newcomer award of the week for averaging 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.

For the rest of the season, the Jacks face opponents they already have defeated, begging the question if they will be able to win out the rest of their games and finish 12-0, capping off the season.

“It’s hard to say. I don’t get that far ahead of myself. Our team’s playing very good and they have a chance to win the games that they have left, but to string that many wins in a row without having a blemish would quite a task,” Johnston said.

#1.883749:3062911018.jpg:sdsuvsipfw03.jpg:South Dakota State’s Maria Boever drives around Lieselot Malfait of IPFW during their game on Feb. 10. :#1.883748:2347792794.jpg:sdsuvsipfw02.jpg:Laura Nielsen of South Dakota State attempts to look around Starla :