With a share of the regular-season title in already hand, the South Dakota State University women’s basketball team (20-8, 11-1) plays for the title outright and the No. 1 seed in next month’s Summit League Championship when it travels to Denver, Colo., Thursday to take on the Pioneers at 8 p.m. in league play in Magness Arena.
The league-leading Jackrabbits enter the contest two games ahead of second place IUPUI after the Jaguars lost at Fort Wayne Feb. 22 and now stand at 9-3 in The Summit League and 19-8 overall.
SDSU won its 17th consecutive regular-season home game Feb. 22 with a 75-53 win over North Dakota State. Freshman Chynna Stevens tallied a career-high 18 points in the victory.
Denver lost its second consecutive game Feb. 22, losing at Omaha, 65-41. Alison Janecek had a team-best 10 points in the loss.
SDSU is ranked 12th in the latest CollegeInsider Mid-Major poll, moving up three spots from last week.
TRACKING THE JACKRABBITS
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Jackrabbit fans can vote now at www.ncaa.com/6thFan by casting votes directly, or votes can be submitted through ncaa.com to Facebook and Twitter. Fans also can vote directly on Twitter by Tweeting or Retweeting the the #6thFan and #SDAKST hashtags.
-South Dakota State secured either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the upcoming Summit League Championship and a share of the regular-season title with a win Feb. 22. A Jackrabbit win Thursday secures their fifth regular-season crown and the No. 1 seed.
-With their win Feb. 22, the Jacks recorded their 17th 20-win season since the program began in 1966-67 and their eighth 20-plus win season since turning Division I in 2004-05. Additionally, the Jacks have won 10-or-more Summit League games in seven consecutive seasons.
-The Jackrabbits will be protecting a modest three-game win streak and playing for their sixth road win of the season Thursday. They are 5-6 overall and 4-1 on the road this season. The Jacks’ last loss on the road this season was at IUPUI Feb. 8.
-South Dakota State is 43-12 all-time (.781 winning percentage) on the road in Summit League contests.
-SDSU will be looking for its fifth series sweep of the season Thursday. The Jackrabbits won the first meeting vs. Denver, 72-61, Jan. 30. Since then, the Jacks have won six of their last seven games and the Pioneers are 1-6.
-The Jackrabbits are 2-0 vs. Denver on the road, but Thursday marks the first time they have played the Pioneers while they members of the Summit League.
-Denver is 4-6 at home, including 4-1 in league play, this season. Its last home win came Feb. 15 when it upset Fort Wayne, 71-66.
-SDSU enters the contest averaging 74.3 points per game in league contests while limiting its opponents to 63.8 points per game. The Pioneers average 70.4 points in Summit League games, and give up 76.6 points per outing.
A QUICK GLANCE AT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
-Waytashek has scored in double figures in 15 of 28 games, and eight other Jacks have posted double-digit scoring games. Waytashek, Paluch, junior Megan Stuart and freshman Kerri Young have SDSU’s only 20-plus point games this season. Waytashek registered the Jacks’ third double-double of the season with 23 points and 13 rebounds at Western Illinois Jan.16. Clarin recorded the team’s first two double-doubles.
-SDSU is shooting 40.8 percent from the field, 31.9 percent from three-point range and 73.6 percent from the free-throw line. The Jacks are also averaging 69.7 points per game and limiting opponents to 65.7 points per game.
-The Jacks have a deep squad with nine players averaging at least 13 minutes per game. Their bench averages 29.8 points per outing this season.
-Denver is 6-21 overall and 4-8 in Summit League play. DU is 4-6 overall and 4-1 in league play at Magness Arena this season. It lost at Omaha, 65-41, Feb. 22. Senior forward Alison Janecek scored a team-high 10 points in the loss.
-Denver is tied for sixth place in The Summit League with Omaha.
-The Pioneers have three players averaging double figures in scoring. Sophomore guard Paige Bradley leads the team in scoring (12.3). Sophomore guard Kailey Edwards is scoring 12.2 and Wirth 10.5.
-Senior forward Maiya Michel grabs a team-high 8.4 rebounds while Bradley dishes a team-best 4.8 assists per game.
-The Pioneers are shooting 41.5 percent from the field, 33 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.
-In The Summit League, Denver is second in free throw percentage (.789), defensive rebounds (24.8) and assists (14.7).
BREAKING DOWN THE DENVER SERIES
-Thursday’s game will be the fifth meeting between SDSU and Denver in women’s basketball, and the Jacks lead the series, 4-0.
-SDSU won the first meeting this season, 72-61, Jan. 30 in Frost Arena. Senior Steph Paluch scored a team-high 14 points while junior Megan Waytashek and senior Tara Heiser each added 11 points. Senior Hannah Strop grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.
-The teams first met in 1983 in Denver, and South Dakota State came away with a 77-71 win. During the 1994-95 season, the Jacks won the regular-season meeting, 82-73, Dec. 10, 1994, in Denver and beat the Pioneers, 95-59, Mar. 7, 1995, in the first-round game of the NCAA Division II Tournament in Brookings.