Jacks head to Boulder for NCAAs
BROOKINGS, S.D. — The South Dakota State University women’s basketball team returns to the NCAA Tournament by matching up with nationally ranked South Carolina in first-round action Saturday in Boulder, Colo.
Tipoff is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. Mountain Time (3:10 p.m. Central) at the Coors Events Center on the University of Colorado campus.
The Summit League regular season and tournament champions, the Jackrabbits enter their fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament with a 25-7 overall record. SDSU has won six games in a row and 19 of its last 21 games overall. South Carolina, which received an at-large bid out of the Southeastern Conference, is making its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Gamecocks are 24-7 overall, which includes an 11-5 record in the SEC. South Carolina is ranked 14th in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll and 17th by the Associated Press.
Although they did not play each other, both teams were in the West Lafayette bracket of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. SDSU lost to host Purdue, 83-68, in the first round, while the Gamecocks recorded an 80-48 victory over Eastern Michigan. USC advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 72-61 win over Purdue, but had its tournament run end in the Fresno Regional against No. 1 seed Stanford, 76-60.
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Following is a look at the pairings and schedule for the games to be hosted by Colorado as part of the Norfolk Regional:
Saturday, March 23
• No. 4 South Carolina (24-7) vs. No. 13 South Dakota State (25-7), 2:10 p.m. MT
• No. 12 Kansas (18-13) at No. 5 Colorado (25-6), 4:40 p.m. MT
Monday, March 25
• USC/SDSU winner vs. CU/KU winner, 7:30 p.m. MT [winner advances to Norfolk Regional]
VERSUS THE FIELD: South Dakota State has gone a combined 2-4 against regular season opponents which qualified for the NCAA Tournament. The Jackrabbits own victories over Nebraska and Middle Tennessee State, while suffering defeats to Creighton, Penn State, Central Michigan and Villanova.
All seven of the Jackrabbits’ losses this season have been to postseason qualifiers — IUPUI (two losses) and Marquette have been selected to play in the Women’s NIT.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio coverage of Saturday’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.
Local radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Central Time on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, with J.J. Hartigan calling the play-by-play. Jackrabbit Sports Network affiliates are to be determined depending on the South Dakota State men’s basketball team’s outcome in its game Thursday against Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Television coverage of Saturday’s game will begin shortly prior to tipoff in the South Dakota and South Carolina markets on ESPN2. The broadcast also will be available to a national audience online through the Watch ESPN app and ESPN3.com.
THE SERIES: Saturday’s game will mark the first-ever meeting between South Carolina and South Dakota State in women’s basketball. The Jackrabbits, however, are 4-0 against Southeastern Conference opponents since moving to the Division I level at the start of the 2004-05 season, owning three victories over Alabama and one against Kentucky.
The Jackrabbits also own victories over both teams in the other half of the draw in Boulder. SDSU is 1-1 against Colorado and 1-0 versus Kansas. The Jackrabbits dropped a 64-50 decision at Colorado during the 2005-06 season before notching an 80-58 victory over the Buffaloes at Frost Arena early in the 2006-07 season. SDSU’s lone meeting with Kansas in the Division I era was a 53-48 Jackrabbit victory in Lawrence also during the 2006-07 campaign. The Jackrabbits also posted a 70-61 win over the Jayhawks in the AIAW Region VI Tournament to wrap up the 1974-75 season.
POSTSEASON HISTORY: The Jackrabbit women’s basketball team will be making its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and seventth straight postseason appearance overall. SDSU qualified for the Women’s NIT in 2007 and 2008 while completing its transition to Division I. SDSU is 3-6 in Division I postseason games, including 1-4 in the NCAA Tournament.
Following is a look at SDSU’s postseason experience at the Division I level:
• First Round: Bye
• Second Round: SDSU 61, Illinois State 48 (at Brookings, S.D.)
• Third Round: SDSU 60, Indiana 53 (at Brookings, S.D.)
• Quarterfinals: Wyoming 70, SDSU 59 (at Laramie, Wyo.)
• First Round: Creighton (Neb.) 76, SDSU 69 (at Brookings, S.D.)
2009-NCAA Tournament (No. 7 Seed)
• First Round: SDSU 90, Texas Christian 55 (at Lubbock, Texas)
• Second Round: Baylor (Texas) 60, SDSU 58 (at Lubbock, Texas)
2010-NCAA Tournament (No. 14 Seed)
• First Round: Oklahoma 68, SDSU 57 (at Norman, Okla.)
2011-NCAA Tournament (No. 15 Seed)
• First Round: Xavier 72, SDSU 56 (at Cincinnati, Ohio)
2012-NCAA Tournament (No. 13 Seed)
• First Round: Purdue 83, SDSU 68 (at West Lafayette, Ind.)
SDSU also had a rich tradition of women’s basketball in NCAA Division II, making nine postseason appearances, including three consecutive Elite Eight appearances (2002, 2003, 2004) to close its run at that level. The Jackrabbits won the 2003 NCAA Division II national championship, defeating Northern Kentucky, 65-50, in St. Joseph, Mo.
VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS: South Dakota State will be facing a ranked opponent for the third time this season when it squares off against South Carolina on Saturday. Since moving to Division I at the start of the 2004-05 season, the Jackrabbits have faced 17 nationally ranked opponents and compiled a 3-14 record against ranked opponents.
Four of the games were played in the NCAA Tournament — versus Baylor in 2009, at Oklahoma in 2010, at Xavier (Ohio) in 2011 and at Purdue (Ind.) last season. With their 60-55 victory over Nebraska on Nov. 18, the Jackrabbits ended a seven-game losing streak against nationally ranked opponents. However, SDSU dropped a 60-50 decision at Penn State on Dec. 16 in its other matchup this season against a ranked foe.
The Jackrabbits’ previous win over a ranked opponent was a 65-55 victory at 25th-ranked Minnesota on Dec. 9, 2008. SDSU’s other win over a ranked foe was a 67-63 victory over No. 19 Southern California on Nov. 17, 2006, at Frost Arena.
SUMMIT LEAGUE AWARDS: South Dakota State University women’s basketball players Ashley Eide and Megan Waytashek earned first-team all-Summit League recognition and Katie Lingle was honored as the Summit League Sixth Woman of the Year as league officials announced award winners prior to the start of the Summit League Basketball Championships.
A senior from Sioux Falls, Eide moved to the first team after earning second-team honors during the 2011-12 season. She ranked second on the team in scoring during Summit League play with an average of 12.7 points per game, while also collecting four rebounds per game. Eide, who reached the 1,000-point mark this season and was Summit League Athlete of the Month in December, entered postseason play with an overall scoring average of 13.9 points per contest.
After being sidelined most of her first two seasons due to injury, Waytashek put together a breakthrough season in 2012-13 by averaging a team-best 15.7 points per game in league play to go along with 4.6 rebounds per contest. Twice the sophomore from Lino Lakes, Minn., posted 30 or more points in a game, including a Jackrabbit Division I era-best 33-point effort at Kansas City on Feb. 2. A three-time Summit League Player of the Week honoree, Waytashek shot 54.2 percent from the field, including 51.4 percent from three-point range, and 84.2 percent at the free throw line in 16 league contests.
Lingle provided consistent play off the bench on both ends of the floor for the Jackrabbits, averaging 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.25 blocked shots per game in league play. The senior from Pierre shot 51.2 percent from the field in league play, while reaching double figures in scoring six times.
Lingle is the third Jackrabbit to earn Sixth Woman of the Year honors in the last six seasons, joining Kristin Rotert (2007-08) and Jill Young (2008-09).
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.).
840 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 840-373 (.692 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 mark during the 1985-86 campaign.
190 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 190-73 mark (.722 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. SDSU ended the 2012-13 regular season with three consecutive home wins.
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.
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 collected an 89-17 record (.840 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, 16-2 during the 2011-12 campaign and 14-2 this season.
In addition, SDSU has gone 47-6 at home (.887 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 22 of 31 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.
She earned Summit League Player of the Week honors three times, including following 30-point games against Fort Wayne on Jan. 12 at at Kansas City on Feb. 2.
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
1,000-POINT CLUB: Senior guard Ashley Eide became the 32nd member of the Jackrabbit 1,000-Point Club, reaching the milestone Feb. 16 in a win at Western Illinois.
A Sioux Falls native, Eide enters the NCAA Tournament with 1,080 career points — good for 30th place on the SDSU career scoring chart after passing former teammate Ketty Cornemann (1,042 points from 2007-10) in the March 9 Summit League tournament game versus Oakland.
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 seven 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. Her latest scoring outburst was a 22-point effort at North Dakota State in the regular season finale on March 2.
Eide currently leads the team in scoring at 13.9 points per game and also ranks second with 49 three-pointers. The senior from Sioux Falls was an all-tournament selection at the Summit League Basketball Championship after averaging a team-best 14.7 points per game in three games while going a combined 18-of-26, 69.2 percent, from the field.
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 and February.
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 8.9 points per game and second in rebounding at 4.8 rebounds per contest while averaging 19 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. She matched her career high with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field in the opening round of the Summit League tournament March 9 versus Oakland.
Over the last 18 games, including eight in which she has tallied double digits in scoring eight times, Lingle is averaging 10.1 points per contest, while scoring at least seven points in every game. She is shooting 52.1 percent (74-of-142) from the field during that span, while also averaging 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game.
She enters the week ninth on the Jackrabbit career blocked shots chart at 96 after passing Leah Klaassen (81 blocks from 1995-98) in the Feb. 2 matchup at Kansas City. Lingle recorded a season-high five blocks in the Jan. 12 win at Fort Wayne.
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 23 times this season. 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.
During her career, 158 of Walters’ 168 shot attempts have been from three-point land. During the 2012-13 season, all but four of her 89 tries 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 few 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 rebound.
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.
After scoring a total of two points in road games at IUPUI and Western Illinois, the previous weekend, Strop scored a season-high 13 points and grabbed a career-best 13 rebounds Feb. 21 against Omaha for her first career double-double. She went 3-for-4 from three-point range and 2-for-2 at the free throw line. Of Strop’s 13 rebounds, four were on the offensive glass.
In her 23 starts, she is averaging 3.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 33.8 percent (22-of-65 from three-point range. The Jackrabbits are 20-3 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 six of the last 13 games, while also establishing new single-game career highs with nine assists in the Feb. 9 win over Oakland and seven steals in the March 12 Summit League championship game against South Dakota.
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 13-game stretch in which she is averaging 8.8 points per game, Boever is shooting 48.9 percent (43-of-88) from the field, including 11-for-28 (39.3 percent) from three-point range. She also has averaged 3.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game over the last 13 contests.
For the season, Boever leads the team with 108 assists (3.38 apg) and 78 steals (2.44 spg) while starting 31 of the Jackrabbits’ 32 games. Her steals total is the most by an SDSU player in any season during the Division I era.
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 20 games and have been tied four times in 32 contests. SDSU held a double-digit rebounding advantage in nine of its 16 Summit League regular season games this year, 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 23 times this season, including 22 of the last 26 games. For the season, SDSU holds a 718-464 advantage in bench scoring, including an 82-38 edge in three Summit League tournament games.
Summit League Sixth Woman of the Year Katie Lingle has been the top Jackrabbit scorer off the bench in 20 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 — a total she matched in the opening round of the Summit League tournament against Oakland.
Mariah Clarin also has provided a boost to the Jackrabbit frontcourt off the bench, leading the team in scoring by a reserve six times. She set a career high with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field March 2 at North Dakota State.
Two other players — Rachel Walters and Tara Heiser — 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 NCAA Tournament with a career record of 315-106 (.748 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 89-17 record (.840 winning percentage) in Summit League regular season games, a perfect 15-0 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.
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 has served as a backup point guard this season. 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.
TOEING THE LINE: During their recent run in which they have won 19 of their last 21 games, the Jackrabbits have created a big advantage at the free throw line by converting 315-of-422 attempts for 75.6 percent.
SDSU was especially efficient at the free throw during the Summit League tournament, going a combined 49-of-57 in the three games for 86 percent.
The Jackrabbits have shot 82 percent or better from the line in each of their last five games, starting with a school-record-tying 11-of-11 performance versus Omaha on Feb. 21.
Over the last five games, SDSU is 79-of-90 from the line, 87.8 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 tied their season high with 37 attempts Feb. 14 at IUPUI, then tied a school record by going 11-for-11 a week later against Omaha. The mark previously was established Jan. 20, 1995, against Morningside (Iowa).
Sophomore forward Megan Waytashek has led the free throw effort by going 68-of-77 (88.3 percent) over the last 21 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 found success on the offensive end during the Summit League portion of the schedule.
The Jackrabbits shot at least 48 percent in seven of their 16 league games, including a season-best 53 percent (35-of-66) at North Dakota State in the regular season finale on March 2. Combined in their 16 Summit League games, the Jackrabbits finished with a league-best 44.8 percent (411-of-917) from the field, including 108-of-299 from three-point range for another league best of 36.1 percent. SDSU also averaged a conference-best 71.7 points per Summit League game, while allowing only 57.3.
Adding to the offensive efficiency is the fact that the Jackrabbits averaged only 15.5 turnovers per league game — more than two 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 was named a repeat selection to the Capital One Academic All-America Second Team on Feb. 21, becoming the first Jackrabbit women’s basketball player to receive the honor twice.
Overall, 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).
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, hosted by South Dakota Sportscaster of the Year Tyler Merriam, features interviews with Jackrabbit coaches and student-athletes, and 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.