If you’re a ‘numbers person’, you had to like South Dakota State’s chances against South Dakota in today’s (March 6) Summit League Championship game.

Each of the last two times the Jackrabbits won the conference post season crown (2015, 2016) they did it as the #2 seed, with both victories coming against the top-seeded Coyotes.

That trend held in 2018 as second-seeded South Dakota State captured its eighth tourney title in the last ten seasons, with a 65-50 win over #1 seed South Dakota.

The Jackrabbits established the inside early with back-to-back baskets from Ellie Thompson in the paint, pacing SDSU to an early 6-0 lead.

When the Coyote defense guarded the inside more closely, that opened up Tagyn Larson from the outside, and she buried a three-pointer to make it 9-0.

USD struggled early to establish anything on offense, missing their first four shots and turning it over twice in the first four minutes, falling behind 11-0.

After a much needed timeout, the Coyotes regrouped, getting back-to-back buckets from Ciara Duffy and a three-pointer from Jasmine Trimboli as part of a 7-1 run to pull to within five. Duffy fiinshed with 12 points, the only USD player in double figures.

The start of the second quarter looked a lot like the first. SDSU was again attacking inside with three straight layups to extended their lead to 21-9.

But then the South Dakota defense buckled down, forcing four turnovers which the Coyote offense converted into points and the SDSU lead was down to five.

The rest of the second quarter belonged to the Jackrabbits inside game. SDSU hit four straight shots from inside the paint to take a 33-20 lead into intermission.

Only five of South Dakota State’s points in the first 20 minutes came from the perimeter. SDSU outshot USD 57 percent to 23 percent in the first half.

After the Jackrabbits extended their lead to 17 early in the third quarter, ther Coyote defense again stiffended, keying a 15-4 run, with a pair of Jaycee Bradley three’s in the middle, to pull to within six.

The South Dakota State offense wasn’t phased. They simply went back insde and used three straight layups to cap an 11-5 run to again go up by double digits and put the game away.

Macy Miller, the conference Player of the Year and Tournament MVP, led the SDSU scoring attack with 16 points. The Jacks shot 58 percent, outscoring the Coyotes 36-16 in the paint. South Dakota shot 28 percent.

The loss snaps a 16-game Summit League win streak for USD, who became the first team since 1994 to go through the Summit schedule unblemished. Overall the Coyotes won 20 straight.

Both the Jackrabbits and Coyotes will continue post season action with automatic berths. SDSU grabs the Summit League’s spot in the NCAA Tournament, while USD, by virtue of their conference regular ssason title, will get an automatic invite to the WNIT.

The fields for those events will be announced Monday (March 12).

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