Women’s basketball falls to Oregon State in NCAA Tourney action

The South Dakota State University women’s basketball season came to a close on Friday afternoon in Corvallis, Ore. as they fell victim to the Oregon State Beavers, the No. 3 seed in the Spokane region of the 2015 Women’s NCAA National Championship Tournament, by a score of 74-62. SDSU entered the tournament as the No. 14 seed in the Spokane region and finished with a record of 24-9.

The Jacks scored the first two baskets of the game on field goals by sophomore Kerri Young and freshman Macy Miller. A defensive foul on senior Mariah Clarin sent Oregon State’s Jamie Weisner to the free-throw line. Weisner knocked down the pair and put the Beavers on the board. Clarin and fellow senior Megan Waytashek each made a field goal to match field goals by OSU’s Ali Gibson and Ruth Hamblin. SDSU lead by a score of 8-6 after the opening two minutes of action. The first three-point field goal of the game came when Young connected from beyond the arc just before the second media time-out, putting the Jacks ahead, 18-12 with 10 and a half minutes remaining in the first half. Young’s three-pointer was matched by a three from Gibson before sophomore Clarissa Ober hit a three-point field goal for the Jacks. With about nine minutes left in the opening period, the Beavers whittled the six-point Jackrabbit lead down to three, 21-18, on a three-point field goal by Sydney Wiese, who would go on to be the leading scorer for OSU with 23 points. Following the three by Wiese, the Jacks went on a 7-3 run with two-point field goals from Miller and freshman Ellie Thompson, and a three-pointer by the lone SDSU junior, Chloe Cornemann. The Rabbits led 28-21 when OSU head coach Scott Rueck called his first time-out of the game with roughly five and a half minutes to go before halftime. Following the OSU time-out, the Beavers went on a 10-0 run and took their first lead of the game at 30-28 on another Wiese three-point field goal at the 3:12 mark. Oregon State stretched that lead to four before Miller and Clarin each made baskets to tie the game at 32. A foul was called on Hamblin as she fought with Clarin for a rebound under the hoop with 19 seconds remaining in the opening half. Miller closed out scoring for both teams in the first half as she connected on a field goal that put the Jacks up, 34-32. The Jacks shot 45.5 percent from the field and were three for nine from three-point range. OSU was 12 of 29 from the field in the first half and 28.6 percent from outside the arc. Miller had 10 points for the Jacks and Wiese had 11 for the Beavers. Both teams finished the half with 18 rebounds.

“[South Dakota State] is a very well coached, well disciplined, hard-nosed, talented basketball team. We knew they were going to come in swinging to punch us first and they did that. They were laser focused, knocking shots, and their posts were hitting threes. They played a great game today and we beat a very good basketball team,” Rueck said during the OSU post-game press conference.

The second half turned out to be a much different story as Clarin collected her third personal foul less than one minute after the beginning of the half and the Beavers went on a 15-4 run with Clarin on the bench to take a 44-36 lead after four minutes of action. Clarin made a field goal that was followed by yet another three from Wiese that put the Beavers ahead, 47-38. A foul on Ober lead to a conventional three-point play for Wiese as she was fouled on a field goal that fell and also bucketed the free-throw, and put OSU up by 10 at 52-42 with 12:56 left on the game clock. About a minute later the Beavers led by 13 and never looked back, not letting the Jacks any closer than 10 points the rest of the game. Wiese hit another three with 12:02 on the clock to push the score to 57-44 before the Waytashek hit a three at the 9:22 mark, to pull the Jacks within 10 again, 57-47. With 1:14 left in the game Waytashek made a free-throw to close the gap to 10 for the last time of the game at 66-56.   

The Jacks will have to find a way to move on without Clarin and Waytashek next season, along with many other members of their senior class.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better five years. It was so special and I am so blessed to be here with these teammates and my coaches. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” Waytashek, who showed a lot of emotion during the post-game press conference, said.

“I would tell them (the underclassmen) that we have proven that we can compete with the best and that is why we are here (at the NCAA tournament) and why we play for the Jackrabbits. They have the opportunity to play with the best and I think they are going to do that,” Clarin said.

On a positive note, the SDSU understand the importance of the experience they have gained through playing in this NCAA tournament game.

“It is a great experience for us. We are a young team and coming in here and getting that experience will really help us for the future,” Miller said. “I just want to thank the seniors for everything, it was a great year.”

Wiese, who led the Beavers with 23 points, also commented about the test that SDSU provided her team with in the first round.

“Definitely give credit to South Dakota State. They came out punching and weren’t afraid of us. They really tested us today and we’re thankful for that opportunity to see that early on,” Wiese said.

Gibson added 16 points and five rebounds while Hamblin chipped in 17 points and seven rebounds for the Beavers.

SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said, “She (Wiese) is really good at coming off multiple ball screens, she will do it two or three times in one possession and you get caught chasing her and eventually she gets you underneath one and hits it. First half we did a pretty good job defending her but second half we get caught under too many of them.”

Miller and Waytashek each finished with 14 points for the Jacks as Miller had six rebounds and Waytashek had five. Young finished with nine points and Clarin, who fouled out mid-way through the second half had eight points and four rebounds.