Jacks hang tough, fall to Baylor

Landon Dierks

LAS VEGAS – It was a back-and-forth affair between the upset-minded South Dakota State women’s basketball team and No. 4 Baylor — something the teams’ rankings might not have led spectators to expect.

In the game, the Jackrabbits gave the Lady Bears all they could handle before falling 72-66 Friday night in Las Vegas.

Baylor came into Friday’s contest shooting better than 60 percent from the field and averaging more than 93 points a game, but SDSU held the perennial women’s basketball power well below its season averages.

“I think defensively there were some execution plays where we gave them easier shots than we would’ve liked,” SDSU sophomore guard Tylee Irwin said in a postgame radio interview. “But for the most part, we made it more difficult for them for sure.”

SDSU held Baylor to a season-low field goal percentage of 49.1 and forced 17 turnovers, but the Lady Bears proved too much to handle despite a strong defensive performance.

“You just can’t miss opportunities against a top 10 team,” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said in a postgame radio interview. “We just didn’t take advantage quite enough.”

Three-pointers were falling early for the Jacks.

Four long-range baskets gave SDSU a 12-10 lead midway through the first quarter and forced Baylor to call a timeout.

An 11-0 run by the Lady Bears to end the first quarter and shooting struggles had SDSU down 21-12, but the Jackrabbits responded.


Strong perimeter shooting in the second quarter helped cut the Baylor lead to 37-34 at halftime.

Eight of 17 3-point attempts in the first half and helped the undersized Jackrabbits keep close to a much larger Baylor squad.

The Jacks earned a 41-38 lead with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter, but Baylor would not let the lead grow any larger.

Spearheaded by the play of junior forward Lauren Cox, the Lady Bears regained the lead using a 9-2 run to close the third quarter.

Cox caused problems for the Jacks all night, finishing with 28 points on 11-for-18 shooting to lead the Lady Bears.

A pair of 3-point baskets by SDSU senior guard Madison Guebert tied the game at 49, but the game would never draw even again.

SDSU mounted a late 8-0 run to pull within two points at 68-66, but free throws sealed the victory for Baylor.

Guebert poured in a team-high 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including six 3-pointers, but the Jackrabbits shot just 32.9 percent from the field as a team in the loss.

SDSU will be back in action against the University of Buffalo at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24 in the team’s second game of the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout.

“Today’s game doesn’t earn us anything tomorrow, so we’re going to have to get emotionally and physically ready to play,” Johnston said. “Buffalo is awfully good … we’re going to have hands full there too.”