SUMMIT SWEEP: Women to face Miami

NATHAN GIESE Assitant Sports Editor

For the seventh time in the past eight years, the South Dakota State women’s basketball team is being fitted for dancing shoes. 

SDSU earned another Summit League Tournament championship last week by taking down IPFW, the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the University of South Dakota in a span of four days; improving its record for 21-1 in tournament play. 

The Jackrabbits (26-6) advance to the NCAA Tournament, their second consecutive appearance in the Big Dance and the program’s seventh overall appearance. 

Awaiting the 120-seed Jacks is the University of Miami, representing the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Hurricanes enter NCAA Tournament as a five seed with a 24-8 record, finishing fifth in the ACC regular season standings. 

One thing these two teams have in common is Notre Dame. Both teams played the Fighting Irish with the Hurricanes falling by 21 at Notre Dame and by 11 in the ACC Tournament semifinals. Meanwhile, SDSU took on the Fighting Irish at home in November, ultimately falling 75-64 at Frost Arena. 

This will mark the first meeting between the two programs. The Hurricanes hold a 5-10 all-time record in NCAA Tournament plays while the Jacks are 1-6 in this setting. 

SDSU relies on underclassmen to lead them, highlighted by sophomore Macy Miller and and freshman Madison Guebert. 

Miller, who earned Summit League Tournament Most Valuable Player honors, leads the Jacks in scoring (15.3 points per game) and assists (88 total assists). After ending the season hitting just three of her last 22 three-point attempts, Miller connected on seven of her 11 attempts from three in the conference tournament. 

Guebert, who joined Miller on the all-tournament team, totaled 43 points in the three tournament games, connecting on 12 of her 19 attempts from the three-point line. The Summit League’s Freshman of the Year ranks third on the team in scoring (10.4 points per game) and leads the team in three-point shooting, hitting 39.8 percent for the season. 

Miami is led by junior guard Adrienne Motley, who averages 15.6 points per game while shooting 37 percent from three. Junior guard Jessica Thomas ranks second in scoring for the Hurricanes, averaging 11.9 points per game, while also dishing out nearly four assists per game. 

Travel time could come into play for this game. With the contest being held in Palo Alto, California, the Jackrabbits have a total distance of 1,810 miles to get to the game while the Hurricanes have a total distance of 3,086 miles to get to Stanford. Though both teams will fly to the game, jet lag could play a factor in Friday’s game. 

Both teams have played several nationally ranked opponents this season.

Miami went 1-6 in those games with the lone win coming against No. 14 Florida State in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. SDSU went 1-2 against nationally ranked opponents with the win coming against No. 16 DePaul University at home in December. 

Neither team has home court advantage with the game being played out in California, making it a neutral court game for both teams. Miami is 8-3 in neutral court games this season while the Jackrabbits are 5-1, the one loss coming against Maryland, who is ranked fifth in the nation and a two seed in the NCAA Tournament. 

Getting hot at the right time can carry a team in this setting. The Jackrabbits appear to have hit their stride at the right time with three decisive wins in the Summit League Tournament while the Hurricanes have lost three of their last five and four of their last seven games. 

The game will be played Saturday, March 19 in Palo Alto, home of the Stanford Cardinal, and will air on ESPN2 at 5:40 p.m.