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South Dakota State’s Women Beat Western Illinois on a Late Basket in Summit League Play

Steph Paluch
Steve Towery/South Dakota State University

For the second straight game, the South Dakota State women’s basketball team got off to a slow start, and for the second straight game it didn’t matter, as the Jacks got some late game heroics from Steph Paluch, who’s layin with :03 left, lifted SDSU to a 67-66 win at Western Illinois.

The Jacks, five days after spotting Fort Wayne a 14-0 lead only to come back at win at home, started 6-of-24 from the floor, 0-of-9 from 3-point range, with 12 turnovers in the first 16:13 on the road at Macomb, as the Leathernecks opened up a 10-point halftime lead, behind Ashley Luke, who finished the night with 21 points.

In the second half, the Jackrabbits were ready to pounce, and with Megan Waytashek hitting 3 3-pointers in the first seven minutes, part of a 12-4 run that saw SDSU drain 6 from long range in the first nine minutes to pull to within 2.

The final 7:00 featured a handful of ties and lead changes with neither team grabbing more than a 2-point advantage.

With :29 left, Paluch stepped to the free throw line with the Jacks down two and promptly knocked a pair home to put SDSU up 65-64.

Next it was Western’s turn to show nerves of steel at the line, when Michelle Maher dropped in two with :10 left to give the Leathernecks a 66-65 lead.

But that was enough time for Paluch to go coast-to-coast for the winner and SDSU had their third straight win to start Summit League play.

Waytashek finished with her first double-double of the season and the fourth of her career with a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds. Paluch finished with 15 points, including going 6 for 6 from the foul line.

The Jacks (12-7/3-0) play at Omaha Saturday at 2:00pm.


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