Summit League Women’s Championship: South Dakota State Beats South Dakota, Advances to 5th Straight NCAA Tourney
The most important college basketball game between two South Dakota college teams lived up to its billing Tuesday afternoon at the Sioux Falls Arena, as South Dakota State beat in-state rival South Dakota 56-53, in a nail biter, for the Summit League Women's Championship.
The contest marked the first time two State school had squared off for a Division I conference championship and a chance to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Neither team showed any signs of jitters in front of big crowd at the Arena, as both hit half their shots early, with Megan Waytashek scoring four of the Jacks first seven points to give SDSU an early three-point lead.
Then it was USD's turn. Nicole Seekamp picked up right where she left off in the semifinals, when she blitzed North Dakota State for 23 in the second half, scoring 17 first half points against the Jackrabbits Tuesday, on 7-of-10 shooting. Her 17th point of the half gave the Coyotes a 30-22 lead with 3:07 to play, after USD had led by as many as nine.
From there the Jacks cut that lead in half, going to the locker room down 32-28.
In the second half, defense reigned supreme for both teams. Neither team shot the ball very well after the break, 29 percent for USD, 27 percent for SDSU. The one player most disrupted by the increased defensive pressure was Seekamp, who was liminted to just 1-of-5 shooting in the second half for three points.
With the exception of a brief 35 all deadlock, South Dakota maintained a one to four point lead over the next 12 minutes, pushing the lead to five momentarliy at 46-41 with 8:57 left.
But it was one spot on the flooor that made all of the difference late in the game - the free throw line.
With the game tied at 50 with 5:02 left, each team managed just one field goal the rest of the game. The difference? Four SDSU made free throws to just one USD make. In the second half, nearly half (12-of-28) of South Dakota State's points came on free throws as they made 15 trips to the line compared to just seven for South Dakota.
The Coyotes had a chance to draw to within one late, but Alexis Yackley missed on the front end of a one-and-one, who missed a three-pointer after a timeout to seal the win for the Jackrabbits.
The victory is SDSU's 15th straight in the Summit League Tournament, their fifth straight tournament championship. Next stop? The NCAA Tournament.
The Jacks win was a true team effort, with 12 assists on 16 made baskets, with Ashley Eide dishing out four of those. Megan Waytashek led the scoring attack with 11 points, Eide added 10. Gabby Boever led the defensive charge with seven steals.
Nicole Seekamp led USD with 20 points, Tempestt Wilson added 10.