Summit League Preview: South Dakota State Women at South Dakota, Fort Wayne
South Dakota State knows all about winning women's basketball regular season titles in the Summit League. In the last decade, the Jackrabbits have finished on top five times and won the conference's post season tournament on seven occasions.
But as the Jackrabbits (22-5/11-1) begin the final week of league play, they are looking to end a three-season drought without a regular season crown - something they can claim a share of with a pair of wins to close out the schedule.
It won't be easy as SDSU heads on the road for the final two, including a battle with arch rival South Dakota, Wednesday (February 21) night.
The Coyotes are one of the hottest teams in the nation, riding a 17-game winning streak, which includes a 67-61 win over the Jackrabbits last month.
Balance has been the key for South Dakota, as nine different players have led the team in scoring at various points this season. Six different players are averaging better than nine points a game.
USD is tops in the Summit League in field goal and free throw percentages, and fewest points allowed. They are second in assists, steals, and fewest turnovers.
The Coyotes won the first meeting thanks a strong first half from Kate Liveringhouse, who scored 18 points in the first 20 minutes.
The South Dakota defense held the number-one offense in the conference to their fewest made field goals (23) in a game this season, while forcing eleven turnovers, seven of which came on steals.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Wednesday in Vermillion.
SDSU closes out the regular season at Fort Wayne, Saturday (February 24).
The Mastodons (4-22/1-12) have lost nine straight, although all four of their victories have come at home this season.
Fort Wayne has been struggling to find a consistent lineup all season. Not one player has started all 13 Summit League game, and a total of ten players have been shuttled through the starting lineup during conference play.
South Dakota State won the first meeting 105-49. The Jackrabbits shot 61 percent in the first half and were led in scoring by Ellie Thompson, who finished the game with 23 points.
Tipoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday in Fort Wayne.
Last Saturday (February 17), the Jackrabbits won 70-42 at Western Illinois.
SDSU blew open the game with a 20-1 run in the final 7:30 of the first half. They limited one of the Summit League's best offense teams to just 17 percent shooting for the game.
Madison Guebert lead the Jacks with 20 points, including five three-pointers.
I talked with head coach Aaron Johnston about last week's sweep and this week's match-ups with South Dakota and Fort Wayne: