Jacks prepare for weekend clash with UND

Landon Dierks, Sports Reporter

Following back-to-back road wins last week, the South Dakota State women’s basketball team turns its focus to a showdown with the University of North Dakota.

SDSU (17-6, 9-1) downed Denver 83-67 Jan. 31 then overcame an early deficit to defeat Oral Roberts 74-65 Feb. 2, but it wasn’t an easy road trip despite the success.

“It was a tough trip, a long trip.” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said. “We played two good teams in really physical, fast-paced games. That’s a trip that a lot of teams in our league will struggle on because of the quality you’re playing in the third and fourth place teams (in the Summit League). I couldn’t be happier with how we played.”

The two wins extended the Jacks’ win streak to seven games and widened the gap between SDSU and any challengers for a top-two seed in the conference tournament to three games, but Johnston has his team focused on what’s ahead of them, not the recent success.

“We’re playing well, but its always about what you do next … I like where we’re at, it’s just a matter of trying to get better,” he said.

The Jacks now look to take advantage of a six-day break before hosting UND on Saturday at Frost Arena.

North Dakota (UND)

Last result: SDSU won 66-48 on Jan. 18, 2019

In the last meeting, the Jacks jumped on the Fighting Hawks (9-14, 4-6) early, building a 29-6 lead by the end of the first quarter, but both teams struggled to score and develop a rhythm after that.

The game turned into a stalemate over the final three quarters, both teams shooting sub-36 percent from the field for the game and fouling 23 times as the Jacks used their quarter success to earn an 18-point win.

“We defended really well and, offensively, I thought we played well,” Johnston said. “We didn’t make as many shots, but we had good looks, were patient and took care of the ball … I liked how we played them the first time so it’s just trying to build on that.”

As was the case the first time around, SDSU will look to limit the impact of Lexi Klabo, UND’s star forward.

“We certainly paid a lot of attention to her (the first time),” Johnston said. “We doubled her, tried to help, forced her off her spots and I we did a good job. We used Myah [Selland], Sydney Palmer, Tagyn [Larson] and Paiton [Burckhard] at times to mix up her looks to keep her uncomfortable as much as possible.”

Klabo recorded 17 points and nine rebounds in the teams’ first meeting.

The opening tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 from Frost Arena with the men’s contest to follow.