Top-25 matchup goes down to wire

Jackrabbits look to rebound after season-opening loss

Skyler Jackson, Co-Sports Editor (He/Him)

The South Dakota State women’s basketball team opened its season Monday night at Frost Arena, and the No. 23 Jackrabbits fell to No. 21 Creighton.

After tying the game in the fourth quarter in front of 2,504 in attendance, the Jackrabbits (0-1) went cold down the stretch with three crucial turnovers, and that was all it took for the Bluejays (1-0) to steal the victory.

“In some ways, I thought we played well and in other ways we didn’t,” coach Aaron Johnston said after the game. “We’ve got to execute better on offense, and our defense wasn’t good enough to keep us in it when our offense struggled.”

The Jacks led by nine points in the first half and would later take a three-point lead into the locker room. A layup by Haleigh Timmer put SDSU up by five to start the second half. Creighton then put up 10 straight points to take a 43-38 lead.

From there, Creighton would keep their narrow lead, and they led 56-52 after three quarters. Early in the fourth quarter, the Jacks trailed by five when freshman Ellie Colbeck hit consecutive shots, including a 3-pointer, to tie the game at 64-all.

“I think they’re able to do it all, they’re able to drive, they’re able to kick it out and shoot threes,” junior forward Kallie Theisen said. “And we kind of struggled with that down the stretch. We took advantage of our opportunities early, but then we missed out as it went on.”

Then the Jackrabbits started missing shots and turning the ball over. And that led to a 9-0 scoring run by the Bluejays over the next five minutes, which put the game out of reach.

While it was tough for the Jacks to lose their season-opener at home, it was understandable considering their opponent. Creighton reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament out of the Big East conference.

“Obviously they’re a nationally recognized team,” redshirt senior forward Myah Selland said. “I think we had a really good opportunity to have them at home here, and we really missed out on that.”

The Jacks also dealt with injuries to point guards Paige Meyer and Dru Gylten. Because of that, SDSU relied on Timmer, Colbeck and freshman Madison Mathiowetz, as it seemed to work for most of the game. But Creighton’s experience won out over SDSU’s youth down the stretch when the Bluejays took control off Jackrabbit turnovers.

“I’ve got to do a better job of finding ways to make them be more comfortable because I thought we looked rattled there,” Johnston said. “And then when we turned it over, I thought that led to some breakdowns defensively.”

Selland led the Jacks in scoring with 22 points. She added two rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes. Freshman Brooklyn Meyer scored 12 points in her college debut on 6-for-8 shooting. Colbeck and Timmer chipped in 10 points and Theisen had nine.

For the Bluejays, Lauren Jensen scored 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field, 4-7 from three and 6-6 from the free throw line. She also had six rebounds and five assists. Morgan Maly was the only other Bluejay to score in double-figures with 13 points. As a team, Creighton shot 7-15 from three-point range.

Up Next

After their tough loss to Creighton, the Jackrabbits will hope to bounce back with two more games back at Frost Arena.

Their next game will be at 7 p.m. Friday against Lehigh, a team that went 19-11 overall last season and 11-7 in the Patriot League. The Mountain Hawks kicked off their season Monday with a 60-43 win against Stonehill.

In that game, two players scored in double figures. They were led in scoring by Frannie Hottinger with 21 points, while Mackenzie Kramer had 13 points.

After their game with Lehigh, the Jackrabbits will then face Mississippi State Monday. Last season, the Bulldogs went 15-14 overall and 6-10 in the Southeastern Conference. They are returning two of their top three scorers from last season, Anastasia Hayes, who averaged 18.6 points per game last season, and JerKaila Jordan, who averaged 13.6 points per game.

This could be another challenging non-conference matchup for the Jackrabbits, playing a team that had seen recent success, finishing as the national runner-up twice in the last six seasons.

Following those two home games, the Jackrabbits will head to the Bahamas starting Nov. 19 for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.