Jacks advance to finals against UNLV

SDSU women’s basketball cruised into the championship game of the UNLV Tournament with a 55-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Saturday.

Northern Illinois led by three early in the first half, but from then on it was SDSU’s game as the Jackrabbits raced out to a 31-18 halftime lead.

Much like their last game against Sam Houston State, the Jackrabbits allowed this game to look closer than it actually was. The Jacks manufactured a 29-point lead, starting the second half on an 18-0 run, before allowing the Huskies to finish on a 22-6 run.

“It wasn’t like it was any one thing that just went south,” said head coach Aaron Johnston. “It was just a combination of a lot of little things. I do think we lose a little bit of our focus and intensity and that’s not intentional. Players certainly aren’t trying to do that. It’s not their wish at all, but it just comes with experience a little bit and learning how to play in those moments and I think we’ll play better. The nice thing is you get to that point [where you’re up big].”

Chynna Stevens finished with a game-high 13 points along with six rebounds. Kerri Young also finished in double figures with 12 points and a game-high six assists.

Reaching double figures for the Huskies was freshman center Kelly who finished with 12 points and three boards. Teammate Ally Lehman had a game-high 11 rebounds.

SDSU held the Huskies to just one three-pointer on 11 shot attempts and 32 percent from the field on the game while being plus three on rebounds and forcing 13 turnovers.

“I thought our defense was really good,” Johnston said. “They’re great at putting it on the floor and driving. … They just put a lot of pressure on you. They pick up fouls and they help. I thought we were pretty good defensively at that, but our zone was even better. It took the ball off the floor for them and made them more of a passing team, more of a catch and shoot team and that’s probably not their strength.”

For the Jacks, this marks their second straight win after starting the season 1-2. Next up is UNLV in the championship game at 4:30 on Sunday.

“It’s going to be an open court game,” Johnston said. “Defense for us is going to be a premium. I think for UNLV it’s more of a disruption. It’s still a good defense but they’re going to run at you and pressure you and give you a lot of easy shots in the hope that they’re going to turn you over some too.”