Jackrabbits locking in on the defensive end

NATE GIESE Assistant Sports Editor

SDSU rides defense to five-game winning streak

The old adage in sports is that defense wins championships. The South Dakota State women’s basketball team has adopted that mindset recently, leading to some lopsided victories over the past two weeks.

Currently on a five-game winning streak, the Jacks (19-4, 9-1 in the Summit League) have held their opponents to a combined shooting percentage of 32 in that span.

“Yeah, we emphasize offense, but defense wins championships,” junior post Clarissa Ober said. “You can score a lot of points on offense but come down on the other side, is the other team scoring as much as you or are you holding them to 40 points a game?”

During the winning streak, SDSU forced 89 turnovers with an average of over 17 per game. The result of the opponents’ low shooting percentages and turning the ball over is an average margin of victory, which is nearly 19 points through the last five games.

“We have a better mindset of what we need to do defensively,” Gabrielle Boever, a sixth-year senior, said. “We’re doing a better job of knowing our scouting reports and know what the other team’s going to do. We’ve definitely put a big emphasis on that part of it.”

Knowing the opponent in conference play has been key to the Jacks’ recent defensive surge. For Boever, who is fourth in the Summit League in steals, 2.1 per game, this is her sixth time watching film on some of these opponents. And as a veteran on this young team, she also knows she plays an important role on defense.

“The only thing you can control is your own effort and going out there and doing your best,” Boever said. “If I go out there and take ownership and I lock up my person, the person right next to me is going to take ownership and do the same thing.”

Another aspect to the Jacks defense has been Ober who is their defensive presence in the post. Ober ranks second in the conference in blocks, also 2.1 per game, and sees a difference in the opponent when she swats them.

“When I do disrupt their shot, they’re kind of more timid to come in. So they look more for their outside game, yet they don’t get anything going inside just because we’re being big inside,” Ober said of the role her shot blocking ability brings to the team’s overall defense.

Ober and Boever both said they don’t go out of their way to block shots or come up with steals, but timing, knowing the opponent’s tendencies and staying fundamentally sound has led to their numbers.

Though Ober and Boever have the individual accolades on defense, the Jacks as a team have the best defense in the Summit League, ranking first in defensive field goal percentage allowed, 33.2, and defensive points allowed, 53.8, league play.

With three-straight home games coming up before finishing off the regular season on the road, the Jacks hope to keep this defensive intensity going, and Boever said it comes down to certain players to get it done.        


“It all comes down to the upperclassmen,” Boever said. “If we take ownership, which we do, knowing that defense is important and we think it’s important to us, then we’re going to do it.”