Huge third quarter boosts Jacks over Omaha

Landon Dierks, Sports Reporter

Behind a near-perfect third quarter, South Dakota State’s women’s basketball program downed the University of Nebraska Omaha 81-47 in the first game of Saturday’s Pork Classic doubleheader at Frost Arena.

On paper, Saturday’s matchup featured two teams in the middle of vastly different seasons. SDSU (15-6, 7-1) came into the game on a four-game winning streak while Omaha (6-14, 1-7) had dropped four in a row.

For much of the first half, however, the product on the court did not show such a large disparity.

To open the game, the Jackrabbits took a quick 9-0 lead. It looked, for a moment, as though the 3,000-plus fans in attendance were in for a repeat performance of Wednesday night’s 53-point demolition of North Dakota State.

But early on, Omaha had other ideas.

While the Mavericks never took the lead from the home team, their defense frustrated SDSU and kept the game close through the first 20 minutes.

This was most evident during the second quarter. In the period, Omaha outscored SDSU 18-16, forced four turnovers and limited the Jacks to just 10 shot attempts.

Then, coming out of halftime, SDSU did what it has seemingly done all season long — make a run to start the third quarter.

“One of the things we really emphasize at halftime is just how much we have to come out with that fire in the third quarter,” senior guard Madison Guebert said. “Halftime is just a good time for us to regroup, settle down a little bit, get our heads in the right spot and come back out.”

The Jackrabbits played a near-flawless third quarter, holding the Mavericks scoreless for the opening 8:52 of the second half while putting together a 22-0 run that persisted through two Omaha timeout and a media timeout.

A running floater in the lane by Macy Miller to beat the end-of-quarter buzzer capped off a third period in which the Jacks outscored the Mavericks 24-3 and shot better than 71 percent from the floor.

“We played really well in that third quarter,” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said. “That was obviously the difference (in the game).”

It was a group effort, the Jacks assisted on 25 of 33 made field goals, paced by nine assists from junior guard Rylie Cascio Jensen. The exceptional ball movement helped four Jackrabbits reach double figures in scoring. Macy Miller and Myah Selland tied for the game-high mark with 15 points each.

The Jacks have now won five consecutive games to cap off the first half of Summit League play and look to keep things going into the second half and beyond.

“We definitely have some good momentum going right now,” Guebert said. “But this time of the year decides which teams are getting better and which ones are not. We have to keep pushing forward and getting better because we have two tough road games coming up.”

The first of those games is 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31 when the Jacks with travel to take on Denver University.