The South Dakota State University women's basketball team will attempt to put a bow on a successful month of December as it hosts North Dakota State Sunday afternoon in the Summit League opener for both teams.
Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. at Frost Arena. The game is scheduled to be televised on Midco Sports Net and Fox College Sports Pacific.
The Jackrabbits enter Sunday's matchup having won five of six games during December. SDSU is 8-5 overall after winning its last two games - a 72-57 victory over Delaware State on Dec. 18, followed by a 64-58 win at Georgetown on Dec. 21. The only blemish on the Jackrabbit record in December has been a 60-50 setback at nationally ranked Penn State on Dec. 16.
North Dakota State, meanwhile, comes into league play with a 4-8 overall record. The Bison, who were picked fourth in the Summit League preseason poll, wrapped up non-conference play Dec. 23 with a 60-48 home win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee to end a five-game losing streak.
The Bison have been bitten by the injury bug again this season, playing most of the year without starting center Janae Burich. Katie Birkel, who sat out last season due to injury, has returned for her senior season in 2012-13 and leads the squad with an average of 12.2 points per game.
Summit League play gets under way Friday night with three games slated. Four league games are set for Sunday afternoon.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio and video coverage of Sunday'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 also will be available for $4.95.
Local radio coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. Central Time 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, KJJQ 910 AM in Brookings, KGFX 1060 AM in Pierre, KORN 1490 AM in Mitchell and KSDR 1480 AM in Watertown.
THE SERIES: Sunday's matchup will mark the 76th meeting in women's basketball between North Dakota State and South Dakota State. Longtime rivals at the NCAA Division II level in the North
Central Conference and now at the Division I level as members of The Summit League, NDSU holds a 38-37 series advantage.
The Jackrabbits have closed the gap considerably during the Division I era, holding a 14-3 advantage. The Bison ushered in the Division I era by sweeping the initial season series between the two squads as D-I foes during the 2004-05 season. SDSU then won 10 consecutive meetings until NDSU recorded a 78-71 victory in the 2010-11 Summit League opener on Dec. 4, 2010, at Frost Arena.
SDSU recorded a pair of lopsided victories last season, winning 88-52 in Fargo on Jan. 20, followed by an 88-43 Jackrabbit victory on Feb. 18 at Frost Arena.
In the first meeting, Ashley Eide, who earned team MVP honors in the annual Katherine Bergum Classic, scored 14 first-half points en route to a game-high 20 on
7-of-11 shooting from the field. Jennie
Sunnarborg finished with 17 points in 15 minutes, with Steph Paluch and reserve Rachel Walters rounding out SDSU's double-figure scorers with 10 each.
The Jackrabbits ended the game 29-of-51 from the field, 56.9 percent, including a 10-of-16 performance from beyond the arc. SDSU also held a 40-33 rebounding advantage, with Eide recording a game-high seven boards. She also contributed three assists and three steals.
Janae Burich led the Bison with 12 points, with Danielle Muri adding 10 points and a team-high six rebounds.
In the rematch at Frost Arena, Steph Paluch scored a career-high 18 points and drained four of the Jackrabbits' season-high 15 three-pointers as SDSU clinched a share of the Summit League regular season title.
Besides Paluch, three other Jackrabbits finished in double figures. Ashley Eide and Sunnarborg each tallied 17, with Jill Young adding 13.
The Jackrabbits made 15-of-33 from beyond the arc and finished the game 33-of-64 overall from the field, 51.6 percent. NDSU, meanwhile, failed to convert a three-point attempt, going 0-for-8 from long distance.
Jamie Van Kirk paced the Bison with 12 points, followed by 11 from Janae Burich.
EIDE HONORED: South Dakota State University guard Ashley Eide was named Summit League Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 24 after leading the Jackrabbits to a pair of victories.
A senior from Sioux Falls, Eide averaged 26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in wins over Delaware State and Georgetown. In the Dec. 18 home matchup with Delaware State, Eide tallied 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. At Georgetown on Dec. 21, Eide tied a career high with 27 points and established new
career highs with seven three-pointers and 13 rebounds.
In the two games combined, Eide was 17-of-27 from the field, 63 percent, including 9-for-17 from three-point range. She was 9-for-9 at the free throw line in the win over Delaware State. For the season, Eide is averaging a team-best 15.3 points per game and leads the squad with 32 three-pointers.
She also was named Mid-Major Women's Basketball Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com.
Eide is the second Jackrabbit player during the month of December to earn the weekly Summit award. Forward Megan Waytashek shared the honor on Dec. 10 after leading the Jackrabbits to victories over a pair of postseason-qualifying teams from a year ago - Eastern Michigan and Northern Iowa.
SUMMIT LEAGUE PREVIEW: After capturing its record fourth-straight tournament title and third regular season title in five years, South Dakota State was tabbed as the 2012-13 women's basketball preseason favorite. The Jackrabbits collected 22 first-place votes and 330 points in voting conducted by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media. Oakland's Bethany Watterworth was selected as the preseason Player of the Year.
Last season's Summit League Tournament finalist, Kansas City, placed second in the poll with 260 points and one first-place vote. Oakland, North Dakota State and IUPUI were separated by just 21 points for the third through fifth slots with the Jaguars claiming one first-place tally. South Dakota edged out Western Illinois for sixth place while Fort Wayne and league newcomer Omaha rounded out the poll. The Mastodons collected the final first-place vote.
Watterworth, an all-league first team selection each of the last two years and second team honoree as a freshman in 2010, was the preseason selection for Player of the Year after scoring a team-high 18.7 points and grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game. The forwardheads into the season ranked 14th in league history in career scoring (1,502 points) and leads an Oakland squad that returns three starters for head coach Beckie Francis.
Joining Watterworth on the first team are Kansas City teammates Kim Nezianya, an all-tournament team honoree, and Eilise O'Connor. The duo helped lead the Kangaroos to just their second appearance all-time in the championship game last year. An all-league first teamer last season, IUPUI's Kerah Nelson captured a spot on the preseason first team, while North Dakota State's Katie Birkel and South Dakota State's Ashley Eide also earned the distinction.
The second team is highlighted by returning Newcomer of the Year Saule Kontautaite of Western Illinois. She is accompanied by North Dakota State's Janae Burich, a second team all-league selection, IUPUI's Katie Comello, Oakland's Zakiya Minifee and Omaha's Paige Frauendorfer.
The Summit League concluded a record-setting season a year ago finishing the year ranked No. 19 in the College Basketball News RPI, peaking as high as No. 11 midseason. The league sent a record four teams to postseason tournaments and set a new women's league tournament attendance record.
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 SDSU had lost a season opener was during the 1992-93 season, when it fell 74-72 to Moorhead State (Minn.).
823 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 823-371 (.689 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.
170 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-plus seasons competing at the Division I level, SDSU has compiled a 173-71 mark (.709 winning percentage) versus D-I opposition. The Jackrabbits have posted victories over 57 different Division I teams representing 21 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, Aaron Johnston has led the Jackrabbits to a 153-24 record (.864 winning percentage) at Frost Arena, including a 97-15 mark (.866 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. SDSU had a 10-game home winning streak end in a Nov. 14 loss to Creighton, but has since won its last three home contests.
Since the start of the 2001-02 season, SDSU has a 141-19 home record (.881 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.
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 sophomore from Lino Lakes, Minn., Waytashek has scored in double figures in nine of 13 games this season. At the Best Buy Classic, Waytashek tallied 10 points versus Villanova and 13 points with seven rebounds in an overtime win over Washington State.
In earning co-Summit League Player of the Week honors on Dec. 10, Waytashek averaged 20 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals per game in wins over Eastern Michigan and Northern Iowa. She opened the week by tying a then-career high with 17 points, including the game-winning basket, against Eastern Michigan on Dec. 4. She then scored a career-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting Dec. 8 at Northern Iowa.
For the week, she shot 51 percent (14-of-23) from the field, 62 percent (5-of-8) on three-pointers and 70 percent (7-of-10) at the free throw line.
Waytashek enters the week second on the team in scoring at 12.6 points per game. She ranks second with 19 three-pointers and fourth in steals (17) and rebounds (50/3.8 rpg).
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 833 career points after reaching double figures for the fifth consecutive game by tying her career high with 27 points Dec. 21 at Georgetown - marking the fourth time this season she has topped 20 points in a game. She made a career-best seven three-pointers in the contest as the Jackrabbits defeated a BIG EAST opponent for the first time.
Eide started her sting of double-figure games by scoring 15 points - all on three-pointers - Dec. 4 against Eastern Michigan and added 15 more points in the Dec. 8 win at Northern Iowa. She also tallied 26 points in the Jackrabbits' Nov. 18 upset win over nationally ranked Nebraska.
Eide currently ranks leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game and also paces the team with 32 three-pointers. In the most recent NCAA statistics, she ranked 20th among Division I players this season for three-point shooting at 46 percent.
During the 2011-12 season, during which she earned second-team all-Summit League honors, Eide finished third on the team with an average of 10.9 points per game. She become the 32nd player in Jackrabbit women's basketball history to score 1,000 points.
SENIOR LEADER: Senior center Katie Lingle has given the Jackrabbits a big boost both off the bench and as a member of the starting lineup during the 2012-13 season. The Pierre native ranks third on the team in scoring with an average of 7.8 points per game and second in rebounding at 4.7 rebounds per contest.
Lingle could return to the Jackrabbit lineup this weekend after sitting out the Dec. 21 game at Georgetown. She suffered a head injury that require stitches in the Dec. 18 matchup against Delaware State. Lingle scored five points and recorded two steals and a rebound before leaving late in the first half.
Lingle began the season on the bench, but started three games beginning with a Nov. 28 matchup against Marquette, when she scored nine points and grabbed four rebounds.
She returned to a reserve role Dec. 8 at Northern Iowa, but responded by matching her season high with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds.
Lingle also scored 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 matched that exactly a month later in a home win over Delaware State - a game in which she also scored a career-high 16 points.
Dietel has tallied at least five rebounds in eight of the last 12 games. She currently leads the team with an average of 5.7 rebounds per game.
BOMBS AWAY: Sophomore wing Rachel Walters has developed into a three-point specialist for the Jackrabbit women's basketball team.
In her two seasons at SDSU, 107 of Walters' 114 shot attempts have been from three-point range. During the 2012-13 season, all but one of her 35 shot attempts have come from long range.
Walters matched a career high with 12 points - all on three-pointers - in a Nov. 23 loss at Central Michigan. Her previous 12-point outing also came in the state of Michigan as she drained four three-pointers in a win at Oakland during her freshman season.
CLEANING THE GLASS: After being out-rebounded in back-to-back games losses to Central Michigan and Marquette (Wis.), the Jackrabbits returned to their winning ways thanks to a strong effort on the boards Dec. 1 against Middle Tennessee. SDSU held a season-best 17-rebound advantage, 48-31, as Megan Waytashek led the effort with a career-high 10 rebounds. All 11 SDSU players to see action in the game tallied at least one board.
The Jackrabbits turned in another strong rebounding performance in their Dec. 8 win at Northern Iowa, holding a 42-27 advantage. Sophomore guard Gabby Boever led SDSU with a career-high eight rebounds and junior forward Hannah Strop tied a career high with six rebounds as she made her first career start.
For the season, the Jackrabbits have out-rebounded the opposition in seven games and been tied twice in 132 contests.
DOUBLE DUTY: The Jackrabbit women's basketball team has received double-double performances from three different players this season, including in back-to-back games.
Ashley Eide's 27-point, 13-rebound performance Dec. 21 at Georgetown marked season highs by an SDSU player in both categories during the 2012-13 campaign.
Sophomore forward Megan Waytashek posted the team's first double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in a Dec. 1 home victory over Middle Tennessee. Leah Dietel turned in a double-double performance Dec. 18 against Delware State, scoring a career-high 16 points while tying a career high with 10 rebounds.
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, who coached his 400th career game Dec. 16 at Penn State, enters the weekend with a career record of 298-104 (.741 winning percentage). He ranks second on the SDSU career victories list - only three 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.
Along the way to a 32-3 overall record, the Jackrabbits received national media coverage from CBS Sports, USA Today, ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated and The New York Times.
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 at 3.604.
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 in late November.
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 2012-13 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 continue their homestand with a pair of games at Frost Arena next week. SDSU rings in the new year with a Jan. 3 game against Kansas City, followed by a Jan. 6 matinee with in-state rival South Dakota in the South Dakota Showdown Series presented by South Dakota Corn.