Jackrabbit women’s basketball got down early, shooting only 20 percent in the first half, but rallied in the second half to pull off a 65-61 victory over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders and improve to 7-3 on the year.
“We were a just gritty, kind of scrappy, team,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston. “We didn’t play great. We need to be sharper in a lot of ways… But they’re a very good team and we did a nice job against them.”
SDSU never managed to catch up to the Blue Raiders in shooting percentage, but that didn’t matter as they won the game at the free throw line, making 25-29 while limiting MTSU to just 10 attempts.
An indirect benefit of getting to the line was slowing down MTSU’s Cheyenne Parker who battled foul trouble in the second half after spending the opening minutes of the game nearly matching the stat line of entire Jackrabbit roster.
In the end she finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks.
“She’s a good player,” Johnston said. “She’s as good as any post player we’ve played this year … and really changed the game defensively with seven blocked shots.”
As Parker’s production waned with the game’s progression, Olivia Jones stepped up with 22 points, going three of six from deep.
The Jackrabbits had their own leader though and her name was Megan Waytashek. The senior guard led all players with 24 points and went 14 of 16 from the charity stripe.
“I’m real proud of Megan Waytashek,” Johnston said. “I thought she showed a lot of toughness, leadership out there. She was very involved in all of our team huddles. If we had a player maybe struggle a little bit, she was the first one to run over there, patting them on the back and trying to get them going. She showed great leadership.”
Clarissa Ober only gave the Jacks three points off the bench, but it was a big three, giving SDSU its first lead of the game with 6:20 to play after the Jacks had trailed by as many as 13.
Another key sequence for the Jacks came around the 2:30 mark when Macy Miller hit a three to put SDSU on top for good and Waytashek drew a charge on the following MTSU possession to foul out Parker.
Clarin then had a big tip in at the 1:13 mark and Waytashek and Kerri Young added five free throws in the final minute to seal the deal.
“We’ve had some close games here,” Waytashek said “This shows the toughness of our team and we’ve just got to keep pushing forward and keep getting better in practice every day.”
Next up for SDSU is the University of Arkansas Little Rock who comes to town Thursday for the 7 p.m. tip in Frost Arena.