Women’s basketball closes nonconfernce play, prepares for conference action

 

Since SDSU students finished up their fall finals the Jackrabbit women’s basketball team entered their Summit League slate amidst a 4–3 (2-2 SL) stretch, falling Sunday to IUPUI in The Jungle for the third straight year.

Prior to Christmas, the Jacks bested the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in Frost Arena before falling to Marist (N.Y.) on the road. They then returned to action on Dec. 29, wrapping up their nonconference schedule with a win at Northern Iowa.

After routing Denver in their Summit League opener in Frost, the Jacks were then reminded how much the league is improving as they fell to an NDSU team on the road. The Jacks ran away from the Bison in both contests a year ago.

The three game road stretch was scheduled to continue at Fort Wayne on Friday, Jan. 9, but after the weather turned SDSU’s journey from Sioux Falls to Fort Wayne, Ind. into a 36 hour adventure, the game was moved to Saturday afternoon.

For 40 minutes, the Mastodons gave the Jackrabbits everything they could handle. SDSU led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but every time the Jacks attempted to stretch their lead, Fort Wayne reeled them back in, setting up a dramatic finish.

“IPFW always seems to give us their best, like a lot of teams in the conference, but yeah, it definitely was a nail-biter and a hard fought win,” said junior guard Chloe Cornemann.

After Fort Wayne tied the game at 64 with 1:25 left, both teams could not find the basket until Macy Miller was fouled on a shot attempt after rebounding the ball with one second left.

Miller sank the first shot for the lead and then bounced the second one off the rim, allowing time to expire before the Mastodon’s could launch a prayer and giving SDSU the 65-64 victory.

Less than 24 hours later the Jacks tipped off against IUPUI , who gave SDSU its only conference loss last season.

Sunday proved SDSU’s turn to play catch up as they trailed the Jaguars for much of the contest, but after finding themselves down eight with just over five minutes to play, they kicked it into gear, eventually taking a one-point lead on a Chynna Stevens three in the final minutes.

IUPUI’s Nevena Markovic silenced the comeback attempt though with a deep jumper on what would be the game-winner with eight seconds left as Mariah Clarin’s last-second shot would not fall.

“I thought that we got really soft on that last possession and gave up really a wide-open [shot], I know it was a 17-18 footer, to Markovic,” head coach Aaron Johnston said. “Just too many mistakes today.”

The Jackrabbits have had their share of close games this year; winning some and losing some as can be seen by the past weekend, but regardless, Sunday’s loss dropped them to 2-2 in the Summit League that they have dominated ever since their arrival in 2007.

“We’re a couple points away from being one and three and we’re a couple points away from possibly being undefeated,” Johnston said about the close games and where they have left SDSU in the standings.

Speaking after the game, Johnston would not rule out changing up the lineup in an attempt to spur his forwards.

“We just have a few players who don’t have urgency,” Johnston said. “… There’s got to be a little more toughness that we play with.”

Next up is a much welcome return home to Frost Arena where the Jacks will host Omaha, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. The Mavericks are currently winless in Summit League play, having dropped their first three contests and sitting at 5-10 on the season.

UNO’s chief advantage in that game will be 6-foot, 7-inches center, Vicky McIntyre, who is the league’s leading rebounder. In comparison, SDSU’s three tallest players stand five inches shorter at 6-foot, 2-inches.