Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Frost Arena. Jackrabbit seniors Leah Dietel, Ashley Eide and Katie Lingle will be honored prior to Thursday's game. The game also is a Freeze Out Frost night in which fans are encouraged to wear white.
The league-leading Jackrabbits enter the contest one game ahead of IUPUI in the loss column with a 12-2 mark in league play, 20-7 overall. IUPUI, which has handed SDSU both of its league losses, stands at 9-3 inThe Summit League and 16-9 overall.
Omaha, meanwhile, ranks fifth in the Summit League standings in its inaugural season in the nine-team conference. The Mavericks are 6-6 against league foes and 16-8 overall.
Thursday's game also marks the inaugural Jackrabbit Dairy Drive — an initiative between the SDSU Dairy Science Department and the Midwest Dairy Association to raise funds for teaching and research. Recent data collected by the national Agricultural Statistics Service estimates that the dairy industry has an economic impact of more than $1 billion annually in the state.
Jackrabbit Athletics also would like to extend a special welcome to members of our armed forces — both current and former — for Military Appreciation Night. Active duty personnel and veterans will receive two complimentary tickets by presenting proper ID at the Frost Arena ticket booth.
SENIOR CLASS: During their four-year careers, the trio of Leah Dietel, Ashley Eide and Katie Lingle have been part of Jackrabbit teams that have compiled a 85-41 overall record, made three NCAA Tournament appearances after winning Summit League tournament titles and captured the 2011-12 Summit League regular season crown.
Dietel, a native of Jordan, Minn., has started games at power forward each of her four seasons at SDSU. In 105 games, she has tallied more than 400 points and 400 rebounds during her career and leads the team in rebounding this season with an average of 5.6 per game. In addition, Dietel has been honored on the Academic All-Summit League Team, the Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence and as a Distinguished Scholar while majoring in early childhood education
A Sioux Falls native, Eide became the 32nd member of the Jackrabbit 1,000-Point Club in her last outing, Feb. 16 at Western Illinois. She enters Thursday's game tied for 31st in career scoring with 1,003 points, while adding more than 400 rebounds, 100 steals and nearly 200 assists in 114 career games. She was selected as a member of the all-Summit League Second Team during the 2011-12 season and has improved upon her average of 10.9 points per game by ranking second on the team at 13.7 points per game this season.
A three-time member of the Capital One Academic All-District Team, Eide also has been honored on the Academic All-Summit League Team, the Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence and as a Distinguished Scholar while majoring in health, physical education and recreation.
Lingle has played a key role as both a reserve and spot starter throughout her Jackrabbit career. A Pierre native, she ranks second on the team this season with an average of 4.7 rebounds per game and third in scoring at 8.4 points per game. Named the Summit League Player of the Week on Feb. 11, Lingle has totaled nearly 700 points and 500 rebounds in 113 career games, and currently stands ninth on the Jackrabbit career blocked shots chart with 87. A journalism major, she also has performed well in the classroom, earning recognition on the Summit League All-Academic Team and Commissioner's List of Academic Excellence.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio and video coverage of Thursday'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 6:30 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, and Pierre-based KGFX 92.7 FM.
THE SERIES: Thursday's game marks the 61st meeting between South Dakota State and Omaha in women's basketball, a series that dates back to the 1976-77 season. The Mavericks won the first 13 matchups in the series and maintain a 31-29 series advantage.
The Jackrabbits broke into the win column with a 59-56 victory during the 1981-82 season and dominated the series late in the Division II era when both SDSU and UNO were members of the North Central Conference. SDSU won 20 of the 24 meetings between the 1992-93 and 2003-04 seasons.
FIRST MEETING: Four South Dakota State players scored in double figures, leading the Jackrabbits to a 74-64 victory over Omaha to close out the first half of the Summit League schedule on Jan. 26 at Sapp Fieldhouse.
The league-leading Jackrabbits improved to 7-1 in The Summit League and 15-6 overall. Omaha, in its first season as a Summit League member, dropped to 14-6 overall and 4-4 in league play.
SDSU never trailed on the afternoon, breaking a 3-all tie with an 11-4 run to lead 14-7 lead seven minutes into the game. The Mavericks knotted the game at 17-all before the Jackrabbits countered with a 12-2 run, highlighted by five straight points by guard Gabby Boever, to take the lead for good. SDSU scored the final eight minutes of the half to lead 39-24 at intermission, thanks in large part to 55.2 percent (16-of-29) shooting from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
Omaha scored the first six points of the second half to trim the deficit to 39-30, but the Jackrabbits stemmed the tide with a pair of free throws by Hannah Strop and four straight points by Katie Lingle.
SDSU strung together another 8-0 run moments later to take its largest lead of the day, 55-36, on a three-pointer by Megan Waytashek.
The Mavericks put together one final run, closing to within nine points, 62-53, with seven minutes to play. However, the Jackrabbits once again had the answer as they quickly increased the margin back to 15 and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Waytashek led the way with 11 points, while Boever, Strop and Katie Lingle all tallied 10 points. Lingle also paced the Jackrabbits on the boards with seven rebounds to share game-high honors. The balanced SDSU offensive attack also featured nine points from Ashley Eide and Rachel Walters.
Rebounds were even at 29.
SDSU finished the day with its best overall shooting percentage of the season, going 27-of-52 for 51.9 percent. The Jackrabbits made 8-of-20 three-point attempts and were 12-of-16 at the free throw line, 75 percent.
Omaha received 17 points each from Jamie Nash and Carolyn Blair-Mobley, with Blair-Mobley also grabbing seven rebounds. Paige Frauendorfer contributed 16 points and six rebounds.
The Mavericks ended the afternoon 19-of-52 from the field, 36.5 percent, including a 5-for-13 effort from beyond the arc. Omaha was 21-of-22 at the free throw line, 95.5 percent, including a perfect 10-for-10 by Blair-Mobley.
LINGLE RECEIVES SUMMIT HONOR: South Dakota State University center Katie Lingle was named as Summit League Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Feb. 11 after helping lead the Jackrabbits to two conference wins.
A senior from Pierre, Lingle came off the bench to average 14 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocked shots and two assists per game, while playing only 21 minutes per contest. She scored a career-high 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and matched her season high with nine rebounds in a home victory over Fort Wayne on Feb. 7. Two nights later at Frost Arena, Lingle added 10 points and eight rebounds as the league-leading Jackrabbits defeated Oakland.
For the week, Lingle shot 61 percent (14-of-23) from the field. She extended her streak of being the leading scorer off the bench for the Jackrabbits to 10 consecutive games, reaching double figures five times. Taking into consideration all games this season, Lingle leads the league by shooting 50.3 percent (82-of-163) from the field.
Lingle is the third different Jackrabbit player to earn Summit League Player of the Week honors this season, joining three-time honoree Megan Waytashek and Ashley Eide.
WAYTASHEK ALSO HONORED: For the third time this season, South Dakota State's Megan Waytashek was honored as Summit League Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Feb. 4.
A sophomore from Lino Lakes, Minn., Waytashek posted the highest-scoring game in the Jackrabbits' Division I history, pouring in 33 points in a 62-61 victory at Kansas City on Feb. 2. She went 11-of-17 from the field, including 7-of-10 from three-point range as she reached the 30-point mark for the second time this season.
Waytashek opened the week by scoring a game-high 18 points in a Jan. 30 win at South Dakota, adding three rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and a steal.
In the two games combined, Waytashek averaged 25.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. She shot 58 percent (18-of-31) from the field, including 9-of-14 from behind the arc. Her recent three-point shooting prowess would have her ranked among the top 10 among Division I players for three-point percentage at 43.3 percent (52-of-120) this season, but she is two made three-pointers shy of qualifying for the rankings.
Waytashek was also honored by the Summit League on Dec. 10 and Jan. 14.
30-POINT GAMES: Sophomore forward Megan Waytashek has reached the 30-point mark twice this season, becoming only the third Jackrabbit player in the Division I era to reach that scoring plateau.
Following are the Jackrabbits' other 30-point games since the start of the 2004-05 season:
• Megan Vogel 31 points vs. North Dakota State Feb. 4, 2006
• Megan Vogel 32 points vs. Fort Wayne Feb. 10, 2007
• Jennie Sunnarborg 31 points vs. Kansas City Jan. 14, 2012
• Megan Waytashek 30 points at Fort Wayne Jan. 12, 2013
• Megan Waytashek 33 points at Kansas City Feb. 2, 2013
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.).
835 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 835-373 (.691 winning percentage).
In addition, SDSU has sealed its 27th consecutive winning season between competing at the NCAA Division II and Divsion I levels during the 2012-13 season.The Jackrabbits' last losing season was an 11-16 campaign during the 1985-86 season.
185 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 185-73 mark (.717 winning percentage) versus D-I opposition. The Jackrabbits have posted victories over 58 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 159-24 record (.869 winning percentage) at Frost Arena, including a 104-16 mark (.867 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, and its seven-game Frost Arena streak snapped Jan. 19 in a 57-56 loss to IUPUI.
Since the start of the 2001-02 season, SDSU has a 149-19 home record (.887 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.
FEASTING IN FEBRUARY: The Jackrabbits have made a habit of ending the regular season strong throughout their time in Division I. Now in its ninth season of competing at the Division I level, SDSU begins the week with a 54-6 record in February. That mark included a 26-game winning streak in February that ended Feb. 22, 2010, at Oakland.
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 an 87-17 record (.837 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 46-6 at home (.885 winning percentage) against league foes and has won at least one game on every other Summit League member's home court.
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 20 of 27 games this season, with three double-doubles. At the Best Buy Classic, Waytashek tallied 10 points versus Villanova (Pa.) 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, including 3-for-3 on three-point attempts. 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 line.
1,000-POINT CLUB: Senior guard Ashley Eide became the 32nd member of the Jackrabbit 1,000-Point Club, reaching the milestone Feb. 16 at Western Illinois.
A Sioux Falls native, Eide enters Thursday's contest with 1,003 career points - tying her with Sarita DeBoer (2002-05) for 31st place on the SDSU career scoring chart.
Eide hit the 20-point mark for the fourth time in five games with a game-high 22-point outing against South Dakota on Jan. 6. She has topped 20 points six times this season, including tying her career high with 27 points on a career-best seven three-pointers Dec. 21 at Georgetown as SDSU defeated a BIG EAST opponent for the first time.
She had a streak of three consecutive games with at least 20 points, starting with a 25-point night against Delaware State on Dec. 18. Eide also tallied 26 points in SDSU's Nov. 18 upset win over nationally ranked Nebraska and scored 21 in an overtime loss to Marquette (Wis.) on Nov. 28.
Eide currently leads ranks second on the team in scoring at 13.7 points per game and also ranks second with 43 three-pointers. After ranking among the national leaders for three-point shooting percentage for much of the season, Eide has since dropped out of qualifying for the statistical lead after going a combined 3-for-28 from long range over the last nine games.
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.
EIDE HONORED: Jackrabbit women's basketball player Ashley Eide was selected as Summit League Female Athlete of the Month for her efforts during the month of December.
A senior from Sioux Falls, Eide helped lead the Jackrabbits to a 6-1 record during December, while averaging 17.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. She tied a career high with 27 points and set new single-game marks with 13 rebounds and seven three-pointers in a win at Georgetown on Dec. 21. She topped the 20-mark on two other occasions, scoring 25 points in a Dec. 18 win over Delaware State and tallying 20 in the Summit League opener Dec. 30 against North Dakota State.
Eide shot 54 percent (46-of-86) from the field in the seven games, including 47 percent (22-of-47) from three-point range. She also averaged three assists and 1.3 steals in 28.1 minutes per game.
League-leading SDSU's only loss in December came at nationally ranked Penn State on Dec. 16, a game in which Eide scored a team-high 14 points.
Eide is one of four Jackrabbit student-athletes to receive a Summit League Athlete of the Month award this academic year. Men's cross country runner Michael Krsnak and women's soccer player Diana Potterveld were both honored in October. Men's basketball player Nate Wolters received the honor in January.
SENIOR LEADER: Senior center Katie Lingle has given the Jackrabbits a big boost off the bench during the 2012-13 season. She ranks third on the team in scoring with an average of 8.4 points per game and second in rebounding at 4.7 rebounds per contest while averaging 19.2 minutes per game.
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, responding with 12 points on
6-of-9 shooting from the field to go along with seven boards.
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.
The Pierre native recorded a career-high 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and matched her season high with nine rebounds in the Jackrabbits' Feb. 12 home victory over Fort Wayne. Her previous career high of 16 points came two years to the day (Feb. 7, 2011) at Oral Roberts.
Over the last 13 games, including five in which she has tallied double digits in scoring, Lingle is averaging 9.5 points per contest, while shooting 52.5 percent (53-of-101) from the field. She also is averaging 5.1 rebounds and 1.46 blocked shots per game.
She enters the week ninth on the Jackrabbit career blocked shots chart at 87 after passing Leah Klaassen (81 blocks from 1995-98) in the Feb. 2 matchup at Kansas City. Lingle recorded a career-high five blocks in the Jan. 12 win at Fort Wayne and added three more against the Mastodons on Feb. 7.
DIETEL ON THE BOARDS: Senior forward Leah Dietel has been a strong presence on the glass during 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, who played in her 100th career game Jan. 30 at South Dakota, has tallied at least five rebounds 18 times this season. She currently leads the team with an average of 5.6 rebounds per game.
BOMBS AWAY: Sophomore wing Rachel Walters has developed into a three-point specialist for the Jackrabbit women's basketball team.
During her career, 145 of Walters' 154 shot attempts have been from three-point land. During the 2012-13 season, all but three of her 75 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. She added nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range in a Jan. 26 win at Omaha and was 3-for-6 from behind the arc en route to nine points Feb. 16 at Western Illinois.
STROP SETTLES IN: Junior forward Hannah Strop has made a successful transition to the Jackrabbit starting lineup over the last two months.
A native of New Prague, Minn., Strop earned her first career start at Northern Iowa on Dec. 8. Although she did not score, Strop matched her previous career high with six rebounds - a total she surpassed on a couple different occasions, including a career-best 10 rebounds Feb. 9 against Oakland. She ended the Oakland game a point shy of her first career double-double despite going 3-for-3 on three-point attempts.
On Dec. 30 against North Dakota State, Strop connected on 3-of-4 three-point attempts en route to nine points She also grabbed five rebounds and contributed a steal and blocked shot. Strop again made a trio of three-pointers Jan. 3 against Kansas City and Jan. 17 versus Western Illinois, equaling her season high with of nine points.
Strop scored a season-high 10 points Jan. 26 as SDSU recorded a road win at Omaha.
In her 18 starts, she is averaging 4.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 34.6 percent (18-of-52) from three-point range. The Jackrabbits are 15-3 in games she has started.
BOEVER COMES UP BIG: Sophomore point guard Gabby Boever has come on strong on the offensive end in recent weeks, posting double-digit scoring performances in five of the last eight games, while also establishing new single-game career highs for assists (nine) and steals (five) in the Feb. 9 win over Oakland.
The Worthington, Minn., native scored a career-high 15 points in a losing effort against IUPUI on Jan. 19, followed by consecutive 10-point performances at Omaha on Jan. 26 and at South Dakota on Jan. 30. Boever scored seven consecutive Jackrabbit points, starting with a three-pointer from the top of the key, in a crucial stretch of the second half versus USD.
On Feb. 7, Boever recorded 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in a over Fort Wayne. Four of her five rebounds came on the offensive glass. She also tallied double figures with a team-high 13 points in the Feb. 16 victory at Western Illinois.
During her recent eight-game stretch in which she is averaging 10.1 points per game, Boever is shooting 53.8 percent (28-of-52) from the field, including 9-for-20 (45 percent) from three-point range. She also has averaged 3.6 assists and 2.8 steals per game over the last eight contests.
For the season, Boever leads the team with 91 assists (3.37 apg) and 64 steals (2.37s pg) while starting 26 of the Jackrabbits' 27 games.
CLEANING THE GLASS: After being out-rebounded in back-to-back 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 17-rebound advantage, 48-31, as Megan Waytashek led the effort with 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.
SDSU posted its best rebounding effort of the season Jan. 3 in an 82-47 victory over Kansas City. The Jackrabbits ended the night with a 44-17 (plus-27) advantage in total rebounds, including a 19-3 edge on the offensive glass. SDSU converted the 19 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points, compared to four by the Kangaroos.
For the season, the Jackrabbits have out-rebounded the opposition in 16 games and have been tied four times in 27 contests. SDSU has held a double-digit rebounding advantage in eight of its 14 Summit League games this season, including a streak of three in a row - plus-10 (45-35) at Oakland, plus-12 (41-29) at Fort Wayne and plus-16 versus Western Illinois (51-35) on Jan. 17.
BENCH SCORING: South Dakota State has gotten production up and down its lineup during the 2012-13 season. Jackrabbit reserves have out-scored opposing reserves 19 times this season, including 18 of the last 21 games. For the season, SDSU holds a 571-395 advantage in bench scoring, including a 33-3 edge Feb. 7 versus Fort Wayne.
Katie Lingle has been the top Jackrabbit scorer off the bench in 17 games. She had a streak of 10 consecutive games in which she held at least a share of the team lead for scoring by a reserve end in the Feb. 14 game at IUPUI. Included in the run was a career-high 18 points in a Feb. 7 win over Fort Wayne.
Four different players - Lingle (twice), Rachel Walters, Tara Heiser and Mariah Clarin - have each netted 12 points off the bench in a game for the Jackrabbits this season.
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 Jackrabbits 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 310-106 (.745 winning percentage), becoming the Jackrabbit women's basketball program's career leader in coaching victories when he recorded win No. 302 at Oakland (Mich.) on Jan. 10. Johnston passed his predecessor, Nancy Neiber, who compiled a 301-140 record in 16 seasons from 1985-2000. He recorded his 300th career victory Jan. 3 against Kansas City.
His career totals have included an 87-17 record (.837 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.
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.
TOEING THE LINE: During their recent run in which they have won 14 of their last 16 games, the Jackrabbits have created a big advantage at the free throw line by converting 236-of-332 attempts for 71.1 percent.
SDSU began its run of success at the charity stripe by establishing season highs with 32 made free throws in 37 attempts for 86.5 percent in a Dec. 18 win over Delaware State. The Jackrabbits shot a season-best 90.0 percent (10-for-11) against Oakland on Feb. 9 and tied their season high with 37 attempts Feb. 14 at IUPUI.
Sophomore forward Megan Waytashek has led the free throw effort by going 51-of-60 (85 percent) over the last 16 games, including a streak of 22 consecutive that ended with her first attempt Jan. 10 at Oakland. The Jackrabbit record for most consecutive made free throws is 35, which Heather Sieler set by making her final 17 attempts of the 2002-03 season and first 18 attempts of the 2003-04 campaign.
HEATING UP: South Dakota State has found success on the offensive end during the Summit League portion of the schedule. The Jackrabbits have shot at least 48 percent in six of their 14 league games, including a season-best 51.9 percent (27-of-52) at Omaha on Jan. 26.
Combined in their 14 Summit League games, the Jackrabbits have shot a league-best 44 percent (351-of-792) from the field, including 95-of-269 (35.3 percent) from three-point range. SDSU also has averaged a conference-best 70.3 points per Summit League game, while allowing only 56.5. Omaha leads in scoring defense at 55.7 points per game.
Adding to the offensive efficiency is the fact that the Jackrabbits have averaged only 16 turnovers per game — nearly three turnovers per game less than the season average.
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. Majoring in health, physical education and recreation, Eide will again be considered for Academic All-America honors this season after being named to the Academic All-District 6 Team for the third consecutive year.
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.
JACKRABBIT BASKETBALL COACHES SHOW: Fans are invited to join coaches Aaron Johnston and Scott Nagy every Monday at Cubby's Sports Bar and Grill in downtown Brookings for the Jackrabbit Basketball Coaches Show.
Hosted by South Dakota Sportscaster of the Year Tyler Merriam, the show airs from 6 to 7 p.m. Mondays on the Jackrabbit Sports Network through flagship station WNAX 570 AM and online via the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service 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 close out the regular season next Saturday (March 2) at North Dakota State. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the Bison Sports Arena in Fargo, N.D.
South Dakota State has locked in a top-two seed for the upcoming Summit League Championships in Sioux Falls, meaning the Jackrabbit women will play in the afternoon session on Saturday, March 9 at the Sioux Falls Arena. Pairings will be announced after the conclusion of play on March 2.