Jacks rally to overcome Leathernecks

Robert Myers Sports Editor

After losing leading scorer Megan Waytashek and trailing much of the game, the SDSU

women’s basketball team battled back to defend their home court for the sixteenth straight

time and defeat Western Illinois 83-79.

The scary moment for SDSU came just before the 12:00 mark in the first half when Waytashek

drove the ball into the lane on a shot attempt and landed awkwardly, falling to the ground and

lying there for several moments.

“Megan’s a really good player and when she’s not on the floor that changes things for us,” head

coach Aaron Johnston said. “… I don’t have any update. It’s her ankle and we’ll just have to see

what it’s like tomorrow. I really haven’t talked to the trainers about it.”

Waytashek missed much of her first two years with a knee injury, so it was to the great relief of

the Jackrabbits that the injury concerned her ankle and not her knee.

Not returning to the game, Waytashek’s absence gave the game took on a different look as

the Leathernecks went on a 12-0 run shortly after her departure to take a five point lead.

Eventually though, the Jacks regained some of their momentum to close out the half on a 5-0

run and enter the locker room trailing by a point.

“It was huge,” Steph Paluch said of how the team finished the half. “We were not playing very

well – Megan went down, that sort of thing. So to have momentum going into half, that always

feels good and then just everyone playing better. Gabby had the big block – that’s always a fun

play. We needed it.”

The Leathernecks led by as many as eight points in the second half before the Jacks stormed

back in the final minutes to retake the lead on a three point play by Tara Heiser.

SDSU then scored the next six and appeared to have the game in hand, but after Heiser turned

it over with 27 seconds left, Ashley Luke made a jumper to pull the Leathernecks to within


A botched SDSU inbounds pass gave the Leathernecks a shot to tie it but Kerri Young was able

to rebound Michelle Maher’s three-point miss to secure the win for the Jacks.

The Leathernecks shot 51.7 percent from the field on the game and if were not for their free

throw woes, 10 of 19 from the line compared to the Jacks’ 20 of 26 from the line, and SDSU’s 13

rebound advantage, they may well have been able to end the Jacks’ home winning streak at 15.

“I’m really disappointed,” Johnston said. “We just didn’t have urgency this weekend at all

defensively. … Our perimeter defense just wasn’t where it needs to be to win this time of the

year consistently. We were fortunate that we did some other things well.”

Mariah Clarin, Paluch and Heiser each scored 14 points for the Jacks and Gabby Boever and

Young joined them in double figures with 10 apiece.

Luke led the Leathernecks with 20 points and 12 rebounds while her teammates Tori Niemann,

Marley Hall and Maher also finished in double figures with 17, 14 and 11 points respectively.

SDSU will return to action next Saturday when they will host NDSU in Frost Arena at 4 p.m.