Women’s basketball back on track

AUSTIN HAMM Sports Editor

The South Dakota State women’s basketball team sits at 17-4 this season and at 7-1 in Summit League play.

They are a half game behind South Dakota for the conference lead. The Coyotes are 8-1 in conference play.

The Jacks just notched a key road win, taking one in Tulsa, Okla. against Oral Roberts University, who is tied for third place with Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis.

After a nonconference slate that saw the Jacks drop tight games to top teams like No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 6 Maryland and Green Bay, there was a bit of optimism among fans that SDSU had a legitimate chance at storming through the Summit League unbeaten and rolling into the NCAA tournament with a high seed. But that dream took a substantial hit when the Jacks dropped their game to the University of South Dakota in Brookings two weeks ago. When Nicole Seekamp drilled that step back three to give the Coyotes the win, the wind just seemed to come out of the sails, and the hype machine that had built with the excitement about the possibilities for the season shut down.

Following that loss, the Jacks ground out a double-overtime home win over IUPUI, and suddenly fans had to wonder if this conference season was going to be more of a grind than originally thought.

Sophomore guard Macy Miller is fifth in the Summit League in scoring at 16 points per game. But recently, freshman Madison Guebert has been stepping up, with both volume scoring and hitting some timely shots. Her only field goal against IUPUI was the game winner in the second overtime. All five starters for SDSU are averaging over eight points per game, and six players are over 22 minutes per game.

As a team, the Jacks have a +9.1 scoring margin and are second in the conference in points allowed per game at 59.9. They are first in the conference in free throw percentage.

With eight games left in the season, the Jacks have four games on the road and four at Frost Arena. On Thursday, they play Omaha, a team on Thursday who played them within 10 points Jan. 7. If they win that one, the question will be if they can be dominant over the four game stretch at home to have themselves in a good position headed into the season ending a three game stint on the road that includes rematches with both USD and IUPUI.

Whether the Jacks can live up to early season expectations remains to be seen, but being prepared for the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament is the most important goal going forward.