Larson, SDSU down Mastodons

Landon Dierks, Sports Reporter

Fueled by another efficient game from Tagyn Larson, the South Dakota State women cruised to a 92-68 win over Purdue Fort Wayne Wednesday night at Frost Arena.

SDSU (21-6, 13-1) secured the lead early and led for 39:47, which extended the Jackrabbits’ winning streak to 11 games ahead of Sunday’s rematch with the University of South Dakota.

For the opening 18-plus minutes of Wednesday’s contest, Larson treated the Frost Arena crowd to a near-repeat performance of her perfect 11-for-11, 27-point outing last week at Omaha. The junior forward made her first six field goal attempts and scored 15 points before missing her first attempt with 90 seconds to go in the first half.

“I think my teammates just did a great job of finding me,” Larson said. “I just kind of stood down (in the post) and made layups as they penetrated and found me underneath, so all the credit to them.”

Larson finished the night 7-of-8 for a game-high 17 points to go with six rebounds. She was one of four Jackrabbits to score in double-figures.

Alongside Larson’s efforts, SDSU moved the basketball all night, assisting on 28 of the 34 made shots. Six Jackrabbits recorded at least three assists, led by six from senior guard Macy Miller.

If there were any doubts that SDSU’s focus was set on last place PFW (6-20, 2-12) prior to its date with USD, they were dismissed early on in Wednesday’s action.

The Jacks got ahead early and held a 25-13 lead after the first quarter. Fort Wayne fought back, cutting the lead to 31-25 with 6:39 remaining before halftime, but could not sustain the offensive success.

“They hit some big 3-pointers, we didn’t defend a couple ball screens, I didn’t think, as well as we needed to and they got to the free throw line a little bit,” Johnston said of Fort Wayne’s second-quarter performance. “And I think it was kind of the same in the fourth quarter.”

SDSU responded with a run to push the lead back to 40-25 and led 48-34 at the half.

What came next was predictable.

As they’ve done throughout the season, the Jacks extended the lead in the third quarter. When it was over, South Dakota State had a commanding 23-point lead entering the final 10 minutes.

Up next for the Jacks is Sunday’s clash with USD — the winner earning a clear path to the Summit League regular season title.

“I think we’ll come out ultra-aggressive (against the Coyotes),” Larson said. “It’s been one of our goals this year to win the conference, so I think we’ll come out hungry for a win.”