First place in Summit League, state bragging rights at stake


Abby Fullenkamp

ABBY FULLENKAMP Freshman forward Tylee Irwin shoots during the third quarter against North Dakota Nov. 15. SDSU beat UND 66-52. SDSU hosts Fort Wayne at 2 p.m. in Frost Arena Saturday, Jan. 27.

Carson Herbert

The stage is set for Jan. 25, as the South Dakota State women’s basketball team will host the South Dakota Coyotes in the first of two matchups between the rivals.

The Jacks and Coyotes will be playing for sole possession of first place in the Summit League, with each team entering the game without a loss in conference play.

The Jackrabbits (17-4, 5-0) are coming off an 84-48 statement win against No. 3 ranked Western Illinois last Saturday in Frost Arena.

Redshirt junior guard Macy Miller, who leads the league in points per game with 19, tied her career-high 31 points in the win against the Leathernecks.

South Dakota (15-5, 6-0) has had a strong 2017-18 season so far. The guard trio of junior Allison Arens, sophomore Ciara Duffy and junior Jaycee Bradley has led the team this season, averaging 12.4, 11.9 and 10.4 points per game.

Defense has been a strength for the Coyotes, as they’ve allowed just 58.5 points per game, which ranks first in the Summit League.

“They [USD] are very versatile and very unselfish,” said associate head coach Mike Jewett. “They play well together; they share the ball and they are a very good team defensively. When you look at their statistics defensively, they force a high number of turnovers, get a ton of steals and convert those at a very high percentage.”

The teams split it’s two games last season, with both teams winning at home.

The Jacks are 10-1 at home this season with their only loss being against Louisville, who was ranked No. 4 at the time. The last time SDSU lost a conference game at home was against the Coyotes in 2016.

“The game is going to be determined by who has the best defense, who is going to grab rebounds and make that extra play,” said senior guard Lexi Alexander. “Every game we play against them is going to be an exciting game. Both teams are going to bring their best effort each time.”

Myah Selland, who leads the team in rebounding with 6.3 per game, will miss her third straight game due to a foot injury. However, this may not be a big loss for SDSU as the Coyotes only average 31.6 rebounds per game, which is last in the Summit League.

This game goes far beyond the players and coaches involved, Jewett said.

“When you are competing for a conference championship, every game is important,” he said. “There’s a little more added incentive to this game because it’s a rivalry game. You are not playing just for the players and coaches sitting beside you, but you are also playing for alumni and supporters.”

The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. at Frost Arena. The teams face off again Feb. 21 at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center in Vermillion.