Jacks top Mississippi State, prepare for Bahamas tournament

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

The South Dakota State women’s basketball team improved 2-1 on Monday night. This season, they are hanging on with a 63-62 win against Mississippi State at Frost Arena.

After a season-opening loss to No. 21 Creighton, the Jackrabbits responded Friday with an 18-point win against Lehigh before squeaking out a win over the SEC’s Bulldogs.

“Really pleased with how we played,” coach Aaron Johnston said. “I thought we defended so much better in this game than we did our first two games collectively. A lot of people did a lot of really good things to help us get this one done.”

At one point early in the second half, SDSU’s largest lead was 11, and they led by eight with less than five minutes to play. But the Jackrabbits were never able to pull away, as they missed four straight free throws down the stretch.

MSU tried to force a late rally and they cut the lead to four. But it would be a little too late for the Bulldogs, as they shot a long three at the buzzer. It made the final score 63-62.

It was a hard-fought win for the Jackrabbits, and a quality one against a team that just five years ago won 37 games and finished at the national runner-up in the NCAA Tournament.

“These are the games you always want to play, and these are the teams you want to play against,” point guard Dru Gylten said. “I’m just proud of our team and how we stayed consistent. We didn’t get too high or too low emotionally, we just played our game and came out on top.”

Myah Selland recorded her 10th career double double, leading the Jacks with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Haleigh Timmer chipped in 11 points. It even included SDSU’s lone three-pointer at the end of the third quarter to put them up seven. Paiton Burckhard and Kallie Theisen each had eight points and Gylten led the team with six assists in 21 minutes.

SDSU struggled from the foul line, missing 13 of 27 free throws, including the four straight throws at the end of the game. They shot 49 percent from the floor and held a 45-29 edge in rebounding, including 14 offensive rebounds.

“We knew (rebounding) would be very important for us, especially early on,” Selland said. “In the first half when we got rebounds, we got good looks in transition, so that was really important for us. In the second half, we couldn’t give them any second chances and we needed to get stops.”

Debreasha Powe and Anastasia Hayes led the Bulldogs with 15 points apiece. Asianae Johnson added 12 points and JerKaila Jordan added another 10 points. MSU shot just 38 percent from the field and hit only seven of their 27 three-point shots.

Throughout the game, the Bulldogs played aggressively on defense, which was effective in forcing turnovers, but it also got them into foul trouble. Two of MSU’s starters fouled out of the game in the second half.

Up Next

After two consecutive victories at home, the Jackrabbits will head to the Bahamas Saturday for the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

The Jackrabbits will first face UCLA, a team they beat last season in the semifinals of the WNIT.

This following Saturday, the Jacks will face either Tennessee or Rutgers. Tennessee is 1-2 this season out of the SEC and ranked 11th in the country. Then Rutgers is 2-1 overall this season from the Big Ten conference.

“You’ll have teams down there that will expect to compete for a national title, so you’re going to see some of the best teams and the best players in the country down there and we’re honored to be a part of it,” Johnston said. “And then you have the chance to bring friends and family down to the Bahamas for a few days. So it’s basketball and hopefully good weather, that sounds like a good little trip.”