Women rally to clinch second conference win

After surrendering the first 14 points of the game, the SDSU women’s basketball team cruised to a 77-60 victory over Fort Wayne to improve to 2-0 in conference play. 

IPFW came into Saturday’s game in Frost Arena riding the confidence of a double-overtime victory over NDSU on Thursday. Following tip-off, star IPFW forward Amanda Hyde hit the ground running, making her first of three three-pointers to help guide IPFW to an early 14-0 lead six minutes into the half. The home crowd of more than 2,000 did not give up on the Jacks and they quickly rallied behind the home team as SDSU stormed back with vengeance following a pair of free throws by Tara Heiser. The Jacks quickly scored 14 straight of their own, six of them coming from Heiser, to tie the game at 14 with 8:37 left in the half. 

 “Tara was a good spark for us,” head coach Aaron Johnston said. “She’s the one that got us going offensively. She made a couple of plays and she had some assists there to get other people some shots and once she kind of got everybody going, everybody kind of followed suit.”

Another three-pointer briefly put the Mastodons back on top, but the Jacks once again rallied to score twelve straight, capped off by a three-point play by freshman Kerri Young. The teams battled back and forth for the final minutes of the half before entering halftime with the Jacks leading 32-25, having outscored IPFW 24 to 4 in the paint.

“In sports when you get going and then it stops it’s hard to get it going again,” IPFW head coach Chris Paul said. “I knew we weren’t going to run away with this basketball game. I knew that a run was coming. I was just disappointed when South Dakota State made their run that we didn’t have that energy to stop it and go on a run of our own. … When you jump out to a 14-0 lead, we probably should have at least had the lead at half.”

Unlike the mysterious opening minutes of the game, the Jacks started the second half firing on all cylinders and utilized 10-0 scoring run to carry a 52-32 lead into the under 12 minute media timeout. The Jacks eventually extended their lead to 26 points before making substitutions and easing their foot off the pedal with less than six minutes to play. 

Because of their lopsided victory, 12 players played at least three minutes for the Jacks. The only team members not to enter the game were Mariah Clarin who was suspended for the game because of a violation of team rule and Tiffaney Flaata who is redshirting this year. 

A total of nine players scored points for the Jacks and all twelve were able to contribute statistically to the winning effort. Young led the way with 18 points, five rebounds and an assist. Megan Stuart also had a big game off the bench, scoring 16 points. Continuinwg to lead by example, Heiser scored 11 to go along with three rebounds, six assists and a steal. Freshmen Clarissa Ober and Chynna Stevens played well inside with Ober scoring seven to go along with six rebounds and Stevens scoring six and rebounding seven.

“We all share the ball,” Young said. “That really showed tonight.”

The Jacks finished the game having outrebounded the Mastodons 42-26 and having dominated in the paint, outscoring them 50-12. Though IPFW’s Hyde had a game high of 26 points, SDSU’s bench proved vastly superior, outscoring IPFW’s bench 54-10. The Jacks also shot 51.7 percent from the field compared to only 33.3 percent for the Mastodons. 

“It was fun win,” Johnston said. “It was fun to watch our team play. Not only did we get a win, but I just thought we played really hard, really focused, played well together. … It was just fun to watch us play. Even when we got down, the team didn’t waiver. They just had a lot of good focus today, a lot of good energy.”

The Jacks 11-7 (2-0) will begin a stretch of three straight road games as they travel to Western Illinois University 9-7 (1-0) on Thursday, Jan. 16.