Jacks Fall in Texas
EL PASO, Texas-- The South Dakota State University women’s basketball team (26-10) had its season end Wednesday with a 66-63 loss at UTEP (29-7) in the semifinals of the Women’s NIT in front of 12,222 fans in the Don Haskins Center.
Junior Megan Waytashek (Lino Lakes, Minn.) led the Jacks with 14 points. Classmate Mariah Clarin (Princeton, Minn.) grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Senior Steph Paluch (Pierre) dished a game-high seven assists.
UTEP was led by Kayla Thornton’s 22 points and 11 rebounds. Kristine Vitola added 18 points and Kelli Willingham 10 points.
The teams traded the lead throughout most of the first half. Waytashek sank a three-point field goal with 5:21 left to give the Jackrabbits a 30-21 lead. However, UTEP scored the last five points of the half to cut the lead to 30-26 at the break.
The Miners used a 5-0 run to open the second half and take a 31-30 lead. With eight different ties and neither team leading by more than two points, UTEP took its largest lead of the game at 63-57 on a Chrishauna Parker layup with 30 seconds left.
Waytashek made a three-pointer to make it 63-60 with 17 seconds to go, but Jenzel Nash sank two of UTEPs 23 free throws in the game for a 65-60 lead with 13 seconds on the clock. Junior Gabby Boever (Worthington, Minn.) made her second three-pointer of the night with nine second remaining, but UTEP closed the scoring with a free throw.