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Quest begins for a sixth Summit League crown

Courtesy: SDSU Sports Info
Release: 03/07/2014 08:39:16

After winning its fifth Summit League regular season title, top-seeded South Dakota State (22-8 overall, 13-1 Summit League) begins its quest for a sixth consecutive Summit League Championship crown Monday when it takes on either No. 4 seed South Dakota (16-13, 7-7) or No. 5 seed Western Illinois (14-15, 6-8) at noon in Sioux Falls Arena in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Jackrabbits earned their No. 1 seed in the four-day tournament by winning their last five games and claiming their fifth regular-season title with a 13-1 record.

Should South Dakota State advance to the finals, it will face the winner of the No. 2 vs. No. 7 game and the winner of the No. 3 vs. No. 6 game Tuesday at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.

TRACKING THE JACKRABBITS

Live Radio - Audio coverage via the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com with play-by-play commentator J.J. Hartigan and former Jackrabbit Jill Sargent with the color commentary.

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CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

- The following is a look at the pairings and schedule for the women’s bracket of the 2014 Summit League Championship:

Saturday, March 8
• No. 2 IUPUI vs. No. 7 North Dakota State, 2 p.m.
Sunday, March 9
• No. 4 South Dakota vs. No. 5 Western Illinois, Noon
• No. 3 Fort Wayne vs. No. 6 Denver, 2 p.m.
Monday, March 10
• No. 1 South Dakota State vs. Winner of Game 2, Noon
• Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 3, 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 11
• Championship Game, 1 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

- The Jackrabbits have made the most of their home-state advantage in The Summit League Championship, winning the championship title in Sioux Falls each of the five years they have been eligible for NCAA postseason consideration.

- SDSU is a perfect 15-0 in Summit League Championship games, claiming the 2009, 2012 and 2013 titles as the top seed and both the 2010 and 2011 championships as the third seed.

JACKRABBIT STORYLINES

- Summit League regular-season champion South Dakota State begins its journey to the tourney when it converges on Sioux Falls, S.D., for the 22nd annual Summit League Championship at the Sioux Falls Arena.

- The Jackrabbits, who earned the No. 1 seed at the championship for the third consecutive season, plays the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 4 South Dakota and No. 5 Western Illinois. South Dakota State swept both teams during the regular-season.

- South Dakota State recorded its third consecutive 20-win season and eighth since moving to Division I in 2004-05. Its 13-1 league wins marks the seventh-straight season it has won 10-or-more league games.

- The last time SDSU finished with just one loss in Summit League play was 2008-09 when the Jacks posted a 17-1 regular-season record.

- The Jackrabbits will be protecting a five-game win streak, currently the 23rd longest in the NCAA, going into The Summit League Championship. Their last loss this season was at IUPUI Feb. 8.

- South Dakota State is 1-2 in neutral site games this season. It is also 33-11 all-time, including 16-2 vs. Division I teams. 

- SDSU has played Western Illinois once in the league championship semifinals. The Jacks beat the Leathernecks, 67-39, in the 2009-10 semifinals. SDSU and South Dakota have met once in the championship, the 2012-13 title game which the Jacks won 56-53.

- SDSU is ranked 11th in the latest CollegeInsider Mid-Major poll, moving up one spot from last week.

QUICK GLANCE AT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE

- Head coach Aaron Johnston’s probable starters in the semifinals are senior Hannah Strop (4.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg), junior forward Mariah Clarin (9.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg), junior guards Megan Waytashek (11.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Gabrielle Boever (6.3 ppg, 2.5 apg) and senior guard Steph Paluch (10 ppg, 2.4 rpg). The lineup sports a 19-7 record.

- Waytashek has scored in double figures in 17 of 30 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 41 percent from the field, 33.1 percent from three-point range and 73.9 percent from the free-throw line. The Jacks are also averaging 70.7 points per game and limiting opponents to 66.1 points per outing.

- The Jacks have a deep squad with nine players averaging at least 13 minutes per game. Their bench averages 29.7 points per outing this season.

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