With an opportunity to push its win streak to double-digits this week, the South Dakota State women’s basketball program has its focus on two away games against longtime rivals.
SDSU (18-6, 10-1) was without starting forward Myah Selland, who was wearing a walking boot during last week’s game and no decision has been made about her status for the pair of road contests this week, according to head coach Aaron Johnston.
An 81-58 win over North Dakota without Selland in the lineup looked to be positive but left Johnston with the goal to keep his team moving forward as it moves on to the final five games of the regular season.
“We’re getting to the time of the year where, for us, you want to find ways to continue to improve,” Johnston said. “I thought last week we had a bit of a lull. We played O.K. [against UND], but I don’t think we necessarily improved. I think this week the team is going to be a little more focused on what we can do to be a better team, not just remaining where we’re at.”
SDSU won 81-47 on Jan. 26, 2019
The first time the Jackrabbits faced the Mavericks, where the game was close—at least for a half.
SDSU held a slight 35-29 edge at halftime but pushed the final score to a 34-point final margin during a huge second half in which it outscored Omaha 46-18.
“We weren’t quite ready to go in the first part of that game,” Johnston said. “Being a little more prepared for their length and athleticism will be important along with how they vary defenses between some man-to-man and zone. They do a good job of keeping teams off-balance.”
Following their loss in Brookings, the Mavericks (7-17, 1-10) notched a win against National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics opponent Peru State, but have since lost three more Summit League contests. That current losing streak includes a Feb. 6 performance at the University of South Dakota where the halftime score was 50-6 in favor of the Coyotes.
Wednesday’s rematch with the Jacks will be an opportunity for Omaha to bounce back and try to get into position for a spot in the Summit League Tournament. As of Wednesday, Feb. 13, the Mavericks sit at the bottom of the conference standings, one game behind Purdue Fort Wayne, and would be the lone team left out of the eight-team tournament field.
Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 at Baxter Arena in Omaha.
North Dakota State (NDSU)
Last meeting: SDSU won 86-33 on Jan. 23, 2019
When the Bison visited Brookings in late Jan., it resulted in a blowout.
NDSU (6-17, 3-8) was fresh off a win over rival North Dakota but fell flat against the Jacks at Frost Arena. That was the first loss in what has become a five-game slide for the Bison.
The 53-point beatdown is the Jacks’ most lopsided victory of the season and provides an example of just how good they can be on the defensive end of the floor.
Season records indicate the rematch should be more competitive than the first meeting. NDSU only has one win away from its home court this season but is 5-5 in Fargo. Oral Roberts visits the Bison on Wednesday before the Jacks make the trip for a Saturday afternoon game in the first two games of the Bison’s final homestand of the season.
The Jacks know NDSU is searching for a win to get some momentum as the regular season starts to wind down, and expect a fight from their northern rival in its home arena.
“They play well at home and are another good defensive team so we’ll have to find ways to score,” Johnston said. “… They just play solid and play together.”
The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Scheels Center in Fargo.