Summit League champs

Jacks clinch regular-season conference title with win at USD


Megan Glover

South Dakota State’s Kallie Theisen looks to pass the ball on USD’s Carley Duffney in a Summit League basketbal game Feb. 11 against the Coyotes. The Jacks beat USD by 31 points in that game to clinch sole possession of the regular-season conference title.

Brayden Byers, Sports Reporter

The South Dakota State women’s basketball team cruised to a Summit League regular season championship last weekend by defeating its in-state rival, USD, 78-48.

The Jacks, in gaining the regular season title, have also clinched the top seed in this year’s Summit League Tournament.

This is the ninth time that the Jackrabbit women’s team has won the regular season crown since joining the Summit League in the 2007-2008 season. They are unbeaten in league play with two more weeks left on the schedule.

SDSU had four players score in double-digits against the Coyotes with 14 coming from Paige Meyer. Both Haleigh Timmer and Brooklyn Meyer had 12, while Paiton Burkhard followed up with 10.

The Jacks shot at a 50% clip, pushing SDSU to its first win in Vermillion in nine years.

Defense was a huge part of the game for the yellow and blue as they allowed only nine points in the first 20 minutes. This forced the Coyotes to attempt to claw back from a 35-9 halftime deficit.

“I still think we were really good defensively,” coach Aaron Johnston said. “It wasn’t just a case where someone didn’t shoot it well. We forced a lot of tough shots, made it hard to get to the basket.”

SDSU has four more games left in the regular season with the two this weekend being the final in Frost Arena. Although it is a great accomplishment, Johnston says the team has their eyes set on bigger goals such as a conference tournament championship and an NCAA Tournament berth.

“I always believe that all of those things are impacted by every game you play,” Johnston said. “Every game we play, we’ve got a chance to go out there and earn the right to be that kind of team.”

SDSU moves into two very important games against Denver and Omaha, who both come into their matchups this Thursday with a 7-8 record in the Summit League.

The Pioneers are coming off a hot offensive performance in which they scored over 80 points in an 83-71 win over North Dakota State. They shot 50% from beyond the arc, which is the best ratio since 2020.

“They have a lot of depth and have a lot of balance in what they do,” Johnston said of Denver. “They’re playing really well right now if you look at their last couple of games. They have a lot of people scoring for them.”

Freshmen Emma Smith and Angelina Robles are two of the offensive weapons the Pioneers have. Both had career days against NDSU, posting 27 and 20 points respectively. This was Smith’s fourth game with 20 or more points, while this was Robles third game in double-figures.

Mikayla Brandon totaled 11 points and finished with a career-high six assists on Saturday. Makayla Minett had her third five-block game of the season.

“This is just a different Denver team than we would have seen maybe two, three years ago,” Johnston said.

     Thursday’s game will be the first of three on the road for Denver as it travels through South Dakota and finishes in Omaha Feb. 25.

The Mavericks are coming fresh off a 79-61 loss to North Dakota. This game saw the Mavericks win streak of three games come to an end.

Elena Pilakouta scored 10 points for a team-high while shooting 3-for-4 from the field. She also led the Mavericks with three steals and four assists.

Sam Mitchell trailed behind with nine points, followed by Morgann Gardner and Ana Nikulochkina with eight and seven points.

Omaha shot 39%, going 28% from three. They did have the edge in free throw shooting, finishing with 76%.

The Mavericks will be in Vermillion Thursday to take on the Coyotes before heading to Brookings Saturday. They will round out their season at home against Denver.

Thursday’s game will tip at 7 p.m. while Saturday’s will start at 2 p.m.