Women close out season in ‘Elite’ style

Lynn Stoneburner

Lynn Stoneburner

The South Dakota State University women’s basketball took their first-ever trip to the NCAA Divisions II Elite Eight Tournament last Wednesday and Thursday in Rochester, Minn.

The first round was a success. The Jacks topped Northern Kentucky by one, 68-67. With a tie score at 67 and just 4.1 seconds remaining, senior guard Shari Johnson was fouled bringing the ball up the court.

Johnson made her second free throw attempt to take the lead over the Norse, who ended the season 26-7.

Northern Kentucky led in the early minutes of the game, but the Jacks eventually took the lead with free throws by Brenda Davis. SDSU led at the half, as Stacie Cizek hit a three-pointer with just four seconds remaining in the first half.

The lead was back and forth in the second half. Northern Kentucky was up 62-55 with under 5 minutes of game time remaining. In the final minutes, free throws by Davis and Melissa Pater narrowed the score to 67-65.

Cizek, a sophomore from Omaha, Neb. led the Jackrabbits with 17 points. Davis threw in 12 for SDSU. Shannon Schlagel had yet another double-double performance with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sarita DeBoer added 9 for the Jacks and Brooke Dickmeyer tossed in 8.

SDSU shot 39 percent from the field, compared to Northern Kentucky’s 35 percent. The Jacks entered the second game of the Elite Eight tournament with a 28-8 record.

The second round was a struggle for the Jacks, as they met the fierce competition of Southeastern Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Elite Eight.

Championship hopes were diminished as the Jacks fell by ten, 77-67. Southeastern Oklahoma led SDSU by nine at the half. The Jacks came back strong in the second half and gained control of the lead 49-48.

Turnovers hurt SDSU, who had 29 compared to 15 for SOSU. The Jacks won the battle of the boards, 49-31, led by Brenda Davis with 14.

High scorer for the Jacks was senior Shari Johnson with 13. Cizek, Pater and Schlagel each added 10. Schlagel pulled down 9 boards.

SDSU shot 37 percent from the field. Southeastern Oklahoma hit 45 percent.

“I think we worked hard, and we’ve worked hard all year,” Stacie Cizek said. “We always have wanted to win a national championship, and we got pretty close.”

Southeastern Oklahoma went on to face defending champion Cal Poly Pomona in the final round on Saturday night. Cal Poly Pomona took home the title again this year.

The SDSU women finished an outstanding season with a 28-9 record. The Jacks will graduate two seniors, starting point guard Shari Johnson and center Jamie Nelson.