Jacks hit the road for two conference tests

Landon Dierks, Sports Reporter

Coming off two blowout wins at Frost Arena last week, the South Dakota State women’s basketball team will play two games in three days on the road to start the second half of Summit League play.

Last week featured, statistically, two of the most dominant performances of the season for SDSU. An 86-33 romp over rival North Dakota State was followed by an 81-47 beatdown of the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Now, focus shifts to Denver and Oral Roberts, the two opponents the Jackrabbits defeated earlier this month at Frost Arena to start their current five-game winning streak.

Denver (DU)

Last Result: SDSU won 76-59 on Jan. 9, 2019

For the Jackrabbits, a win over Denver (12-9, 5-3) that sparked a win streak that now stands at five games.

In that game, SDSU held the Pioneers to 59 points, well below their season average of 82.1 points per game, largely due to perimeter defense. DU made 10 3-pointers on 32 attempts. The Jacks will look to limit points from the perimeter again this time around.

“With Denver, we’ll have to be really good at guarding the 3-point line,” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said. “They just shoot it really well — off of ball screens, off of penetration and kick, in transition. They just shoot the ball incredibly well.”

The Pioneers won two in a row after falling in Brookings, but are coming off a 15-point loss to a Purdue Fort Wayne team that sits at eighth out of nine teams in the Summit League standings.

Even with the loss, DU sits alone in third place in the Summit League with a conference record of 5-3. Should the Pioneers get a win over the Jacks in Denver on Thursday (DU already defeated USD at home this season), they would knock the Jacks out of a tie for first place in the conference.

The game is scheduled to tip at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31.

Oral Roberts (ORU)

Last Result: SDSU won 68-55 on Jan. 12, 2019

After the showdown in Denver, the Jacks will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to take on the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (11-10, 4-4).

Offensive rebounding and second-chance points were the difference the last time these two teams met.

SDSU shot just 33.3 percent from the floor but used 21 offensive rebounds to outscore the Golden Eagles 23-0 on second-chance opportunities.

Better execution against the ORU defense will likely decide the winner Saturday.

“They shoot the ball well, but they’re also one of the better man-to-man defensive teams in our league,” Johnston said. “They’re physical and athletic. They made it hard for us to score the first time so you have to be creative and smart about how you score.”

The loss in Brookings was the first of three in a row for the Golden Eagles, but they recently got back on track with a 29-point win over NDSU. ORU will have a home game with PFW Wednesday before meeting up with the Jacks.

The tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2.