Ober leads Jackrabbits to home victory, Waytashek injures leg

By AUSTIN HAMM Sports Editor

Despite starter Chynna Stevens not suiting up due to a foot injury, leading scorer Megan Waytashek going down with a leg injury in the second half and turning the ball over 23 times, the SDSU women’s basketball team still managed to defeat Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne 89-68 in Brookings on Feb. 8. 

“I thought we played really well. I know the second half, the last 10 minutes got really chaotic, both teams turned it over too much. When they got down they just started running and trapping and I think we just lost a little bit of our focus during that stretch,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston. “Having Megan go down, those kind of plays with potential injuries can rattle a team and I think that’s what happened. That play kind of deflated the whole gym.”

The Jackrabbits came out strong, working their way to a 54-32 halftime lead. In the first half, they were paced by Clarissa Ober’s 14 points off the bench. The 6-foot-2 sophomore center shot five of six from the field in the first half, including two of two from three-point range. She finished the day with a game and career-high 21 points.  

Ober’s 14 point lead the Jacks in scoring in the first half, but she didn’t attempt her first shot of the second half until there was 2:29 minutes left on the clock and the game was well in hand. 

“The shots just weren’t coming to me in the second half. I was still looking for my shot, but I didn’t want to force up anything bad,” Ober said. 

Early in the second half, Waytashek got tangled up with a Fort Wayne player going for a loose ball in the corner in front of the IPFW bench. She was helped off the court by trainers, got ice and stayed on the bench for the rest of the game. No specifics about the injury were given.

“We don’t know any more on it. Obviously it’s a leg injury, but we won’t know anymore for a couple of days probably. No reason to assume the worst,” Johnston said. 

Stevens, a regular starter for the Jacks, sat out her first game with a foot injury. She was on the sideline in a walking boot. No definite timeline was given in regard to Steven’s injury. 

“Just a foot injury. We don’t know when she’ll be back; it will be at least a few weeks. We don’t know if it will be the end of the year or not, but we’ll just have to wait and see. There wasn’t an incident, it was more of an overuse kind of thing,” Johnston said. 

With Stevens out, freshman Ellie Thompson got her first career start at SDSU. She put up 13 points, tying her career-high, to go with five rebounds and a career-high four steals in 27 minutes of action. Coming into the game, Thompson had been averaging 5.2 points in 15.5 minutes per game. 

“Ellie was really good. We think Ellie has the chance to be a really special player. It’s hard to do. When you have a short time to prepare after Chynna goes down, and you tell a freshman, she’s going to get her first start, she can have a little bit of nerves,” Johnston said. “Ellie is a really talented player and it’s not surprising she had a really nice game, the challenge will be if she can do it consistently now, but that was a great first start.”

With Waytashek’s status up in the air for the time being and no clear timetable on Stevens’ return, the Jackrabbits starting five may be a bit more fluid in the near future.

“We’ll use Ellie against certain teams when want to be a bit bigger, but other times we’ll be prepared to start four perimeter players. The real challenge is if we don’t have Megan for a period of time, she’s the one who can go between the three and the four, so we have to see where she’s at when we look at how to approach Ellie and who that next person on the team is for us,” Johnston said. “Whether or not we feel someone else can play that guard/post position that Megan can. That’ll be the real challenge. If we can get that ironed out, then that gives us some flexibility. If we can’t, then it’ll be Ellie, Tiff, Clarissa and Mariah, but those are four really good players too.”