Four reach double figures, Jacks roll UND

Landon Dierks, Sports Reporter

Make it eight in a row for South Dakota State women’s basketball.

Behind four individual double-digit scoring efforts, SDSU (18-6, 10-1) defeated North Dakota (10-15, 5-7) 81-58 Saturday afternoon at Frost Arena.

In the win, the Jacks were down one usual starter, as sophomore forward Myah Selland sat on the bench with a boot on her left foot. Selland had started every game this season until Saturday.

Freshman Paiton Burckhard got her second start of the season, grabbing eight rebounds to go along with six points, in Selland’s absence from the lineup.

With the third-leading scorer on the team sidelined, the Jacks called upon the other four full-time starters, particularly sophomore Tylee Irwin and junior Tagyn Larson, to increase their output on offense.

They delivered.

Larson finished with 16 points, six assists and four rebounds. Irwin added 11 points and four rebounds of her own.

When combined with the dependable offensive production of senior guards Madison Guebert and Macy Miller, who scored 30 points between them, the four usual starters scored nearly as many points (57) as the Fighting Hawks did as a whole.

UND forward Lexi Klabo, who came into Saturday averaging a Summit League-best 18.4 points per game, scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Fighting Hawks in both categories. Just as it was in the first meeting this season, she was the only UND player to reach double figures in scoring.

“We knew it was going to go inside to Klabo a lot,” Irwin said after the game. “… I think the guards did a good job helping on Klabo and the other bigs, and our posts did well to contain them.”

The Fighting Hawks entered Saturday’s contest on a win streak of their own, having defeated the University of Nebraska Omaha and North Dakota State earlier in the week, but couldn’t overcome a balanced effort from the Jacks.

Just like in the season’s first meeting, fouls had a noticeable impact on the flow of the game. In the first contest, the teams combined for 46 fouls. The foul total Saturday reached 43, 28 of which were committed by UND.

“[The game flow] was good for the first five minutes, and after that, it ground a little bit,” SDSU coach Aaron Johnston said following the win. “I thought we played well offensively, though. It’s just when you shoot 38 free throws there are a lot of stoppages and not a lot of flow to what’s going on.”

The Jacks jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead, prompting a timeout from UND coach Travis Brewster. UND found success on offense the second half of the opening period but trailed 19-9 after 10 minutes.

That lead grew to 39-27 as the teams went to the locker rooms.

Halftime adjustments and the third quarter effort that follows has been a strength for SDSU all season all year and Saturday was no different.

While it may not have been the most statistically dominant quarter SDSU has put together this season, it put the game out of reach. The Jacks extended its 12-point halftime advantage to 20 as the scoreboard read 63-43 in favor of the home team after three quarters.

The Jacks carried that lead to the final buzzer.

Despite the 23-point loss, Brewster was encouraged by his team’s play in a hostile environment.

“The fight that I enjoyed from my team was the way they kept plugging away and plugging away,” he said. “What you saw was inexperience out on the floor in situations, but when you’re playing a team of this caliber in your conference, that’s what you want to play against to be able to see where you need to go and what you need to do to improve.”

With the win, SDSU kept pace atop the Summit League with South Dakota, which downed Oral Roberts in a comeback victory earlier Saturday afternoon.

The Jacks will be back in action at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 when they travel to face Omaha.