Jacks take on No. 10/11 Penn State
Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern Time (1 p.m. Central) at the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State campus in University Park, Pa.
The Jackrabbits enter Sunday's matchup on a three-game winning streak. In going undefeated thus far in the month of December, SDSU has improved to 6-4 overall. The Jackrabbits defeated Northern Iowa, 61-49, in their last outing, Dec. 8 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Penn State, meanwhile, is 8-2 overall following a 60-41 victory at Virginia Tech on Dec. 12. The Lady Lions, who are ranked 10th in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll and 11th in the latest Associated Press Top 25, have won consecutive games since a 67-52 setback at second-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 6. Penn State's only other loss was at nationally ranked Miami (Fla.) on Nov. 29.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio 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.
Local radio coverage begins at 12:30 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 KORN 1490 AM and KSDR 1480 AM in Watertown.
THE SERIES: Sunday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between South Dakota State and Penn State in women's basketball.
The Jackrabbits will be taking on their second Big Ten Conference opponent - and
second ranked opponent - of the season in Sunday's contest. SDSU scored an upset win over then-15th-ranked Nebraska, 60-55, on Nov. 18 at Frost Arena behind a season-high 26 points from Ashley Eide.
Since moving to the Division I ranks at the start of the 2004-05 season, the Jackrabbits have posted a 7-7 record against Big Ten opponents. Following are the Jackrabbits' records against Big Ten foes:
• Illinois 1-0
• Indiana 1-0
• Iowa 0-2
• Minnesota 2-0
• Nebraska 1-1
• Purdue 0-3
• Wisconsin 2-1
VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS: With their 60-55 victory over Nebraska on Nov. 18, the Jackrabbits ended a seven-game losing streak against nationally ranked opponents. Since moving to Division I at the start of the 2004-05 season, the Jackrabbits have faced 16 nationally ranked opponents and compiled a 3-13 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.
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 HONORS WAYTASHEK: South Dakota State University forward Megan Waytashek was named co-Summit League Player of the Week after leading the Jackrabbits to victories over a pair of postseason-qualifying teams from a year ago.
A sophomore from Lino Lakes, Minn., Waytashek averaged 20 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals per game. 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 has scored in double figures eight times this season, including each of the last five games, to take over the team lead in scoring at 13.4 points per contest.
Waytashek shared the weekly honor with IUPUI forward Kerah Nelson.
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 the Jackrabbits had lost a season opener was during the 1992-93 season, when they fell 74-72 to Moorhead State (Minn.).
821 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 821-371 (.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 171-70 mark (.710 winning percentage) versus D-I opposition. The Jackrabbits have posted victories over 55 different Division I teams representing 20 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 152-24 record (.864 winning percentage) at Frost Arena, including a 96-15 mark (.865 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. Their latest home winning streak ended at 10 games in the Nov. 14 loss to Creighton.
Since the start of the 2001-02 season, SDSU has a 140-19 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.
SDSU's loss to Oral Roberts on Jan. 4, 2010, marked its first home loss to a Summit League opponent.
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 native of the Twin Cities suburb of Lino Lakes, Waytashek has scored in double figures in eight of 10 games this season, including a career-high 23 points Dec. 8 at Northern Iowa. At the Best Buy Classic, Waytashek tallied 10 points versus Villanova and 13 points with seven rebounds in an overtime win over Washington State.
Waytashek enters the week leading team in scoring at 13.4 points per game. She ranks second on the squad with 17 three-pointers and third in steals with 15.
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 767 career points after scoring 15 points — all on a career-high five three-pointers — Dec. 4 against Eastern Michigan and adding 15 more in the Dec. 8 win at Northern Iowa. Eide opened the Jackrabbits' recent three-game homestand with a 21-point outing against Marquette, marking the second consecutive home game that Eide topped 20 points, after tallying a season-high 26 points in the Nov. 18 upset win over Nebraska. Eide currently ranks second on the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game. During the 2011-12 season, Eide finished third on the team with an average of 10.9 points per game.
Eide would become the 32nd player in Jackrabbit women's basketball history to accomplish the feat.
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 8.2 points per game and second in rebounding at 5.2 rebounds per contest.
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 has at least five rebounds in six of the last nine games. She currently leads the team with an average of 5.5 rebounds per game.
Dietel also scored a season-high 13 points - one shy of her career high - in the Nov. 21 victory at Northern Illinois.
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, 101 of Walters' 108 shot attempts have been from three-point range. During the 2012-13 season, all but one of her 29 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 Jackrabbit players to see action in the game tallied at least one rebound.
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.
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 enters the weekend with a career record of 296-103 (.742 winning percentage), ranking second on the SDSU career victories list 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.
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.
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 last week.
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 will go through finals week before traveling to nationally ranked Penn State on Dec. 16. Tipoff against the nationally ranked Nittany Lions is scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern Time (1 p.m. Central) at the Bryce-Jordan Center on the Penn State campus in University Park.
The next Frost Arena appearance for the Jackrabbits is slated for Dec. 18, when SDSU hosts Delaware State in a 7 p.m. contest.