Notebook: Young seals tourney trip at the line


SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston celebrates with the Sioux Falls Arena after the Jackrabbits defeated UMKC, 79-78 in overtime to win the Summit League title. / Collegian Photo by Aaron Stoneberger.


Down to the wire

The Jackrabbits hopes of reaching a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament ended up resting on a gut-wrenching — and controversial — final turn of events.

SDSU had the ball with 11 seconds left after a jump ball where the arrow favored the Jacks and a pair of jumpers of UMKC’s Eilise O’Connor gave the ‘Roos the lead at 77-76. The Jacks fired up an inbounds play from under the basket, geared towards Jennie Sunnarborg but the ball ended up in the hands of Jill Young near the left block.

Young made a few moves and attempted a shot before a foul was called on UMKC’s LeAndrea Thomas A 91 percent free throw shooter on the season, Young knocked down the first shot, tying the game and then followed a UMKC timeout by calmly knocking down the second shot, putting the Jacks ahead 78-77 with 7.1 seconds left.

“I’ve shot a lot of free throws in my life over the last 23 years so there definitely wasn’t any doubt or hesitation in my mind. I just wanted to go up and think they were going in,” Young said.

UMKC got the ball to Dayon Hall-Jones, whose drive the basket was stopped by the SDSU defense before she tried to draw contact and the shot came up short and time expired. No foul was called by the officials on the floor, allowing SDSU to escape with the win

“I just wanted to attack the basket and try to get a foul and get the win for my team. I guess it just didn’t happen,” Hall-Jones said, struggling to speak with tears welling up in her eyes. “The ball didn’t go in and that’s just it.”

“I’m not an official and I don’t really know. I thought the game was very well officiated. We just wanted the ball in [Dayon’s] hands … we just felt like she could make a play,” UMKC head coach Candace Whitaker said.

“Close games always come down to a couple of shots. We could have made a couple and pushed our lead. They could have made a couple to win the game,” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said.

Big swing

While the game came down to a unbelievable finish, the Jackrabbits had to do a lot of rallying in the second half after being down at halftime by nine points, 36-27. The Jacks preceded that with an 11-3 run over the final three minutes of the first 20 minutes.

SDSU opened the second session with four points from Leah Dietel, who was often left free in the second half as UMKC’s attention drifted to Sunnarborg and five points from Ashley Eide.

“They dominated all of the first half,” Johnston said. “Without that run at the end of the first half, we certainly don’t win the game.

Johnston acknowledged Dietel’s performance as being one that likely went unnoticed and as an unlikely offensive source, she made a difference in the first few minutes of the second half.

All-Tournament Team Members

Jennie Sunnarborg won the 2012 tournament’s MVP award, joining Kristin Rotert, Maria Boever and Jennifer Warkenthien as previous SDSU winners of the honor.

Jill Young joined Sunnarborg on the team for the first time in her career. Hall-Jones and Kim Nezianya represented UMKC and Valencia Kelly made the team for Western Illinois.

Attendance record in danger

The women’s championship drew 5,153 fans, third-most in league history. The four highest numbers have come in Sioux Falls.

The women’s-only attendance for the tournament was 17,846, a new Summit League record.

Overall attendance for the four-day event currently sits at 33,743, less that one thousand shy of reaching the all-time overall combined record set in 2009 at 34,681. With a large men’s crowd still looming, look for the record to be broken Tuesday night.