Jacks prepare for Summit League newcomers UND



Landon Dierks, Sports Reporter

Following back-to-back home wins, South Dakota State’s women’s basketball program will have a chance to extend its win streak on the road against the University of North Dakota Friday.

SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston wanted better defensive effort from his team moving forward following a double-overtime loss to the University of South Dakota on Jan. 6 when the Jacks surrendered 105 points.

In both games last week, he got what he was looking for.

“I think we’re getting more committed to (defense),” Johnston said. “The talent is there. The ability is there. It’s just the focus and mentality to feel like we’re going to identify as a defensive team, as a rebounding team and not just an offensive team.”

A Friday date with UND and the leading scorer in the Summit League will be the next test for the Jackrabbits.

North Dakota (UND)

Heading into Friday’s matchup in Grand Forks, North Dakota, SDSU and UND are on different trajectories.

The Jackrabbits won two games last week, catapulting them into first place in the Summit League.

Meanwhile, UND, in its first season as a Summit League affiliate, has lost two of its last three games after starting 2-0 in conference play, dropping to 8-10.

Offensively, the Fighting Hawks look inside to score more than most other Summit League teams but can put unique lineups on the floor to challenge the defense in multiple ways over the course of a game.

“They can play really big and be one of the taller, more physical teams in our league,” Johnston said. “They can go small at times and have good perimeter quickness and shooters, so they have a really good balance. We’ll have to do a good job of defending.”

UND’s Player to Watch: Lexi Klabo

Statistically, UND forward Lexi Klabo is one of the most impressive players in the Summit League, and has won the conference player of the week.

Kablo has topped 25 points in five games this season and has six double-doubles, including a 27 point, 11 rebound game on Sunday in a loss to Western Illinois.

“She’s a complete player, certainly one of the best in our league, and can play at a really high level. We’ll have to have a really good plan for her,” Johnston said.

The 6-foot-2 senior currently leads the conference in scoring average (19.2 points per game), is second in rebounding (8.4 per game) and will be the focus of SDSU’s defensive effort come Friday night.

Tip is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18 in the Engelstad (Betty) Sioux Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.