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Jacks host Middle Tenn., reunion

Courtesy: SDSU Sports Info
Release: 11/30/2012 10:59:51

Two of the most successful mid-major women's basketball programs in recent years square off Saturday afternoon as South Dakota State hosts Middle Tennessee State in non-conference action.
Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. at Frost Arena and will be followed by the Jackrabbit men's
basketball team's Summit League opener against Omaha at 6:30 p.m.
Both squads are coming off overtime losses in their last outings; Middle Tennessee dropped an 88-81 decision at nationally ranked and perennial national power Tennessee on Nov. 28, while the Jackrabbits fell 77-74 at home to Marquette (Wis.) the same night.
Overall, the Blue Raiders are 4-2, with both of their losses in overtime games. SDSU, meanwhile, enters Saturday's game 3-4 overall. Middle Tennessee, which is receiving votes in both national polls, entered the week ranked third in the most recent mid-major poll conducted by CollegeInsider.com. SDSU is ranked 19th.
Both programs are among the 24 Division I squads that have qualified for the NCAA Tournament each of the last four seasons. The Blue Raiders completed a perfect regular season in Sun Belt Conference play a year ago, going 16-0 before finishing 26-7 overall with a first-round loss to in-state rival Vanderbilt. SDSU ended the 2011-12 season with a 22-11 overall record, winning both regular season and postseason Summit League titles before dropping an 83-68 decision at Purdue in the NCAA Tournament.

MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio and video coverage of both of Saturday's game is scheduled to be available via the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com, the official website of SDSU athletics. Monthly subscriptions for the Jackrabbit Extra, which includes live audio and video streaming of select contests are available for $11.95 per month or $99.95 for an entire year of coverage. A pay-per-view option for $7.95 also will be available.
Local radio coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, with J.J. Hartigan calling the play-by-play. Jackrabbit Sports Network affiliates for SDSU women's basketball this season include: 104.1 FM (The Wolf) in Yankton, KBRK 93.7 FM in Brookings and KGFX 92.7 FM in Pierre.

THE SERIES: Saturday's game marks the seventh meeting between South Dakota State and Middle Tennessee in women's basketball - a series that dates back to 58-56 Jackrabbit victory during their inaugural Division I season in 2004-05. The series stands at three games apiece after the Blue Raiders posted wins on their home floor each of the last two seasons.
In the last matchup, Nov. 17, 2011, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Icelyn Elie scored a game-high 22 points and added eigh rebounds in leading the Blue Raiders to a 59-49 victory. Elie's 22 points came on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and an 8-for-8 performance at the the free throw line. Kortni Jones chipped in with 16 points for the Blue Raiders.
Jennie Sunnarborg was the lone player in double figures for the Jackrabbits with 10 points. Leah Dietel added nine points.
SDSU's last win in the series came on Dec. 13, 2009, when the Jackrabbits put together a 62 percent shooting performance from the field en route to an 87-61 victory at Frost Arena.
Ashley Eide came off the bench to score 17 points to lead the Jacks, while Maria Boever and Kristin Rotert each tallied 13. Jennie Sunnarborg chipped in with 12 points off the bench, with Young adding 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds to pace SDSU's 32-29 rebounding advantage.

REUNION WEEKEND: South Dakota State is honoring its proud tradition of Jackrabbit women's basketball this weekend, highlighted by the 10-year reunion of the 2003 NCAA Division II women's basketball national championship team. An all-basketball reunion banquet is scheduled for Friday night and Jackrabbit basketball alumni will be recognized at halftime of Saturday's game.
Led by all-North Central Conference performers Melissa Pater, Brenda Davis and Shannon Schlagel, the 2002-03 squad claimed a share of the first North Central Conference title in program history with a 16-2 mark in league play. The Jackrabbits earned the right to host the North Central Regional and recorded consecutive victories over Regis (Colo.), North Dakota and in-state rival South Dakota to make their second straight appearance in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
A strong contingent of Jackrabbit fans followed the team to St. Joseph, Mo., where they opened the tournament with an 83-62 victory over Cal State Bakersfield. The next night, Stacie Cizek hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, with the Jackrabbits pulling out a 69-62 victory over BeAntley (Mass.).
The Jackrabbits never trailed in the national championship game against Northern Kentucky on March 29, 2003, scoring the first six points of the game before building a 15-point halftime lead. The two teams played even in the second half with the Jackrabbits prevailing 65-50.
Pater, the tournament MVP, led the way with 22 points. Heather Sieler and Davis scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

OPENER STREAK ENDS: The Jackrabbits' 71-47 defeat at the hands of Villanova ended a 19-game winning streak in season openers. The last time the Jackrabbits had lost a season opener was during the 1992-93 season, when they fell 74-72 to Moorhead State (Minn.).

818 AND COUNTING: SDSU's victory over Oakland on Dec. 29, 2011, was the 800th in the women's basketball program's history. Since the modern era of women's basketball at South Dakota State University began with a 6-0 mark during the 1966-67 season, the Jacks have gone on to compile an overall record of 818-371 (.688 winning percentage).
In addition, SDSU sealed its 26th consecutive winning season between competing at the NCAA Division II and Divsion I levels during the 2011-12 season.The Jackrabbits' last losing season was an 11-16 campaign during the 1985-86 season.

160 D-I WINS: Since moving up to the NCAA Division I ranks at the start of the 2004-05 season, the Jackrabbits have posted a winning record against D-I opponents. In its eight seasons competing at the Division I level, SDSU has compiled a 168-70 mark (.706 winning percentage) versus D-I opposition. The Jackrabbits have posted victories over 54 different Division I teams representing 20 conferences plus independents.

TOUGH AT HOME: The Jackrabbit women's basketball team has gained a decisive home-court advantage at Frost Arena over the past decade.
In his tenure as Jackrabbit head coach, Johnston has led the Jackrabbits to a 150-24 record (.862 winning percentage) at Frost Arena, including a 94-15 mark (.862 winning pct.) at home during the Division I era. The Jackrabbits have put together home winning streaks of 15, 15 and 22 in the process. Their latest home winning streak ended at 10 games in the Nov. 14 loss to Creighton.
Since the start of the 2001-02 season, SDSU has a 138-19 home record (.879 winning percentage), losing an average of less than two games at Frost Arena each full
season. The Jackrabbits capped the 2008-09 regular season with a 14-0 record - a mark that stands as the first undefeated home season in school history.
A loss to Western Kentucky early in the 2009-10 campaign snapped a 35-game
regular season home winning streak, as well as a 15-game overall winning streak that began after SDSU lost to Creighton (Neb.) in the first round of the 2008 Women's NIT.
SDSU's loss to Oral Roberts on Jan. 4, 2010, marked its first home loss to a Summit League opponent.

BIG UPSET: The Jackrabbit women's basketball team knocked off a ranked opponent for the first time in four years when it defeated 15th-ranked Nebraska, 60-55, Nov. 18 at Frost Arena.
Ashley Eide scored a season-high 26 points to lead the Jackrabbits. Leah Dietel matched a career high with 10 rebounds as the Jackrabbits held a 38-27 advantage on the boards.
Previously, SDSU's last win over a ranked opponent was against another Big Ten foe, a 65-55 win at 25th-ranked Minnesota on Dec. 9, 2008

SUMMIT LEAGUE SUCCESS: South Dakota State has built an impressive Summit League résumé during its tenure in the conference.
Since joining the league at the start of the 2007-08 season, the Jackrabbits have
compiled a 75-15 record (.833 winning percentage) in Summit League regular season games en route to outright league titles with records of 16-2 in 2007-08, 17-1 during the 2008-09 season and 16-2 during the 2011-12 campaign. In addition, SDSU has gone 40-5 at home (.889 winning percentage) against league foes and has won at least one game on every other Summit League member's home court with the exception of South Dakota, which joined the Summit League last season, and Omaha, which is a new member during the 2012-13 season.

WAYTASHEK RETURNS: Jackrabbit forward Megan Waytashek made a successful return to the court by being named to the all-tournament team at the season-opening Best Buy Classic.
Waytashek missed most of her first two seasons in the Jackrabbit program due to knee injuries. She was granted an injury hardship this past summer, giving her three remaining years of eligibility.
A native of the Twin Cities suburb of Lino Lakes, Waytashek has scored in double figures five times this season, including a career-high 17 points Nov. 28 versus Marquette. At the Best Buy Classic, Waytashek tallied 10 points versus Villanova and 13 points with seven rebounds in an overtime win over Washington State.
Waytashek enters the week second on the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game.

COUNTDOWN TO 1,000: Senior guard Ashley Eide is on pace to make a late-season surge to the 1,000-point mark for her career.
A Sioux Falls native, Eide enters the weekend with 728 career points after scoring 21 points Nov. 28 against Marquette. It marked the second consecutive home game that Eide topped 20 points, after tallying a season-high 26 points in the Nov. 18 upset win over Nebraska. Eide currently leads the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game. During the 2011-12 season, Eide finished third on the team with an average of 10.9 points per game.
Eide would become the 32nd player in Jackrabbit women's basketball history to accomplish the feat.

LINGLE TO START: Senior center Katie Lingle gave the Jackrabbits a big boost off the bench in the first three weeks of the 2012-13 season, but moved into the starting lineup Nov. 28 against Marquette, when she scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds. The Pierre native ranks third on the team in scoring with an average of 8.1 points per game and second in rebounding at 5.4 rebounds per contest.
Lingle scored a season-high 12 points in an overtime victory over Washington State on Nov. 11, then turned in a pair of strong performances to open the home season. She tallied nine points and nine rebounds Nov. 14 versus Creighton, then added nine points and eight rebounds in the upset win over Nebraska on Nov. 18. Lingle also blocked three shots in each contest.

DIETEL ON THE BOARDS: Senior forward Leah Dietel has been a strong presence on the glass during the first quarter of the 2012-13 season. The Jordan, Minn., native tied a career high with 10 rebounds in the Nov. 18 upset of nationally ranked Nebraska, and has at least five rebounds in each of the last six games. She currently leads the team with an average of 6.7 rebounds per game.
Dietel also scored a season-high 13 points - one shy of her career high - in the Nov. 21 victory at Northern Illinois.

HEISER OFF THE BENCH: Junior guard Tara Heiser has been a spark off the bench for the Jackrabbits in recent games. The Watertown native has scored in double figures each of the last two contests, scoring 10 at Central Michigan on Nov. 23 and putting up 12 in an overtime loss to Marquette on Nov. 28. Heiser made her first four shots, including a pair of three-pointers, in scoring all 12 of her points against Marquette in the second half.
For the season, Heiser is averaging 5.9 points per game to rank fourth on the team

COACH AARON JOHNSTON: In his 13th season as head coach of the South Dakota State University women's basketball team, Aaron Johnston has taken the Jackrabbit
program to the top of NCAA Division II and is leading SDSU to national prominence at the Division I level.
Johnston enters the weekend with a career record of 293-103 (.740 winning percentage), ranking second on the SDSU career victories list behind his predecessor, Nancy Neiber, who compiled a 301-140 record in 16 seasons from 1985-2000. Johnston posted his 200th career victory on Dec. 4, 2008, against Centenary (La.) and career win No. 250 against Illinois State on Nov. 24, 2010. His career totals have included a 75-15 record (.833 winning percentage) in Summit League regular season games, a perfect 12-0 mark in Summit League postseason tournament contests and a 16-8 mark (.667 winning percentage) in postseason games.
The Summit League Coach of the Year in each of the Jackrabbits' first two seasons in the league and again during the 2011-12 season, Johnston was named a finalist for the 2009 Naismith Award as the nation's top coach. SDSU tied a school record for victories in a season with 32 during the 2008-09 campaign and gained national attention by vaulting into the top 25 in December after non-conference victories over the likes of Wisconsin, Utah, Minnesota and Gonzaga (Wash.). The Jackrabbits were ranked in the final 13 USA Today/ ESPN regular season coaches' polls, climbing as high as 14th in the coaches' poll and 16th in the Associated Press poll. SDSU finished the 2008-09 season ranked 19th by the coaches.
A native of Pine Island, Minn., "A.J." earned a bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. After serving one year as an assistant coach at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, he moved on to SDSU as a graduate assistant for the Jackrabbit men's basketball team for two seasons before becoming assistant women's coach. He also coached the SDSU golf teams one year.

ACADEMIC SUCCESS: The South Dakota State University women's basketball team continued its track record of academic success, ranking second among Division I programs in the Women's Basketball Coaches Associations Academic Top 25 with a 3.610 team grade-point average during the 2011-12 academic year.
"It was another successful year in the classroom for our program," head coach Aaron Johnston said. "Year after year we have been at or near the top of the WBCA Academic Top 25 Honor Roll. SDSU is a great institution and clearly our university has an excellent plan in place for helping students excel academically."
Wisconsin-Green Bay held the top spot among Division I programs, edging the Jackrabbits for the top spot with a 3.616 team GPA. The top three teams in the D-I rankings all played in the NCAA Tournament as DePaul (Ill.) completed the trio with a 3.604 GPA.
Across all divisions of women's college basketball, which includes NCAA Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior colleges, the Jackrabbits finished 10th overall. Drury (Mo.) led all divisions with a 3.709 team GPA, followed by Northland (Wis.) at 3.706.
In seven seasons competing at the Division I level, SDSU has finished no worse than third place in the Division I team GPA rankings. The Jackrabbits have led the nation four times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011), finished second twice (2010, 2012) and placed third once (2009). In addition, SDSU led all divisions of women's college basketball for team GPA in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Also during the 2011-12 season, Ashley Eide was selected to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team. A Sioux Falls native who is majoring in health, physical education and recreation, Eide earned a spot on the honor squad with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
Eide is the sixth Jackrabbit women's basketball player to receive Academic All-America recognition during the program's history, joining: Tara Tessier (first team, 1988); Laurie (Bruns) Kruse (second team, 1991); Jodi Bergemann (third team, 1994); Megan Vogel (second team, 2007), and Jennifer Warkenthien (second team, 2009).

PALUCH TO REDSHIRT: Senior guard Steph Paluch is expected to redshirt during the 2012-13 season, head coach Aaron Johnston announced last week.
A Pierre native, Paluch started the first 31 games of the 2011-12 season before suffering a knee injury in the semifinals of the Summit League postseason tournament. Playing both the point and off-guard positions, Paluch led the team with 78 assists and 44 steals a season ago. She also averaged 6.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.

SISTER ACT: Two members of the 2012-13 Jackrabbit women's basketball team are following in the footsteps of older sisters - both of whom were recent additions to the SDSU 1,000-Point Club.
Sophomore guard Gabby Boever is the second from her family to play for the Jackrabbits. The Worthington, Minn., native follows her older sister, Maria, who scored 1,360 points - currently 14th - during a career that spanned the 2007-10 seasons.
Freshman guard Chloe Cornemann is expected to make her collegiate debut this weekend. Cornemann's older sister, Ketty, also lettered for the Jackrabbits from 2007-10, finishing her career 30th in scoring at SDSU with 1,042 points. Their father, Dave, was an NCAA Division II national champion wrestler for the Jackrabbits at 167 pounds in 1984.
In addition, fellow newcomer Anne Aamlid has strong Jackrabbit bloodlines - her sister, Seri, played volleyball while brother, Nik, was a member of the SDSU football team. Their father, Brian, played basketball at SDSU from 1977-81.

JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2012-13 women's basketball season, head coach Aaron Johnston will be a guest on the "Jackrabbit Insider," a weekly behind-the-scenes look at South Dakota State University athletics.
The half-hour television show which features interviews with Jackrabbit coaches and student-athletes, airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on Sioux Falls-based KTTW FOX 7. The show is also broadcast on FOX Sports North at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and on FOX College Sports Central (check listings). Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.

THE ROSTER: The 2011-12 SDSU women's basketball roster features 14 players from two different states. Of the 14 players, seven are from Minnesota and seven are from South Dakota. By class, four are seniors, two are juniors, six are sophomores and two are incoming freshmen.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits close out their three-game homestand by hosting Eastern Michigan on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Start time is set for 7 p.m. at Frost Arena.

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