The South Dakota State University women’s basketball team went 2-1, to finish their final away games this season and hope defense can remain strong until the Summit League Tournament.
SDSU started the three game road trip with a loss to the Denver Pioneers (8-19, 5-8), which snapped a five game winning streak.
The Jackrabbits (18-8, 9-4 Summit League) had previously beaten the Pioneers this season 85-44 at home in early January.
“It was a combination of them making shots and us missing shots this time,” head coach Aaron Johnston said. “We had 18 possessions with a shot four feet away and didn’t make any of them, we didn’t try to make any unique adjustments.”
SDSU shot only 38 percent from the field despite freshman guard Macy Miller scoring a career-high 30 points and shooting 12 of 18 from the floor.
“She’s just a really good player, she adapts to the game for what we need,” Johnston said. “She does all the things you would want a senior to do as a freshman.”
Miller led the Jackrabbits to a 66-52 victory against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles in the second road game with 18 points on seven of 10 shooting. The Jacks also held the Golden Eagles (13-13, 7-6) to just 38 percent shooting on the night.
“I think we’ve been playing with confidence as of late, and we understand what we need to do to be good and that’s play good defense,” Johnston said.
That strong defensive pressure led the Jacks again with a win against the Omaha Mavericks to closeout their final road game of the season.
The Mavericks (8-18, 3-11) were held to just 38 percent shooting and committed 16 turnovers. Senior guard Megan Wayteshek scored 17 points with seven rebounds and Miller added 15 points for the Jacks as well.
The Jackrabbits have three games to go until the Summit League tournament and all three games are conference opponents. With last week’s loss to Denver, SDSU is two games behind the top spot in the summit league conference.
The USD Coyotes (11-2) currently hold the number one spot in the conference followed by SDSU (9-4) and then Western Illinois (8-5). SDSU will host USD Saturday for a rival matchup and could be just one win behind the top spot with a victory over the Coyotes.
“We have to limit their penetration,” Johnston said. “They’re very good at drawing fouls and shooting from the three-point line – we’ll need to slow them down offensively.”
The Coyote’s senior guard Raeshel Contreras is currently shooting an impressive 42 percent from behind the three-point line and as a team USD is shooting 36 percent.
The Jacks strong defense will be a key component for this game, but also for the following games until tournament time.
“We have really emphasized coming together defensively, we’ve scored enough points to win a lot of games, but our defense has let us down at times,” Johnston said. “Being strong defensively down the stretch will be a main focus for us.”