The South Dakota State University women’s basketball team will make its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, squaring off against
second-seeded Xavier (Ohio) Sunday afternoon.
Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Eastern (1:30 p.m. Central) at the Cintas Center on the Xavier University campus in Cincinnati. The game is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN2 (standard definition) in the South Dakota and Cincinnati markets. The game also can be viewed — where available — online at ESPN3.com.
The 15th-seeded Jackrabbits enter the matchup with a 19-13 overall record after securing their automatic bid by winning the Summit League postseason tournament. SDSU has won eight games in a row and 11 of its last 12.
Xavier, meanwhile, is ranked fifth in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today coaches’ polls. The Musketeers, champions of the Atlantic 10 Conference, boast a 28-2 overall record with their only losses coming to Duke and Stanford in December. Xavier has won 18 in a row.
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: Following is a look at the pairings and schedule for the Cincinnati games of the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament:
Sunday, March 20
• No. 7 Louisville (Ky.) [20-12] vs. No. 10 Vanderbilt (Tenn.) [20-11], noon ET [ESPN2/ESPN3.com]
• No. 2 Xavier (Ohio) [28-2] vs. No. 15 South Dakota State [19-13], 2:30 p.m. ET [ESPN2/ESPN3.com]
Tuesday, March 22
• Sunday’s winners, 7 p.m. ET [ESPN or ESPN2/ESPN3]
THE SERIES: Sunday’s matchup will mark the first-ever meeting between South Dakota State and Xavier in women’s basketball.
The Jackrabbits will be playing an Atlantic 10 Conference opponent for only the third time and holds a 1-1 record. SDSU posted a 60-56 victory over Charlotte (N.C.) at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas during the 2009-10 season. In their first meeting against an A-10 opponent, the Jackrabbits dropped a 65-60 decision at George Washington during the 2007-08 campaign.
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: The Jackrabbit women’s basketball team will be making its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and fifth straight postseason appearance overall. SDSU qualified for the Women’s NIT in 2007 and 2008 while completing its transition to Division I.
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.)
• First Round: SDSU 90, Texas Christian 55 (at Lubbock, Texas)
• Second Round: Baylor (Texas) 60, SDSU 58 (at Lubbock, Texas)
• First Round: Oklhoma 68, SDSU 57 (at Norman, Okla.)
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.
JACKRABBITS ONLINE: Free audio coverage of Sunday’s game is scheduled to be available at GoJacks.com, the official website of SDSU athletics.
Radio coverage begins at 1 p.m. Central Time on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, with Tyler Merriam calling the play-by-play and former assistant coach Laurie Melum providing color commentary. Network stations carrying Sunday’s game include WNAX 570 in Yankton, KJJQ 910 AM in Brookings, KGFX 1060 AM in Pierre, KRKI 99.5 FM in Rapid City and Watertown-based KWAT 950 AM.
JACKRABBIT INSIDER: Throughout the 2010-11 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 at 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays. Online, the show can be viewed at GoJacks.com.
SUMMIT RECAPS: The Jackrabbits put together three strong performances on both ends of the floor in becoming the first women’s basketball team team to win three straight Summit League tournament titles.
Quarterfinals: South Dakota State 62, North Dakota State 51
South Dakota State went on a 30-7 run over the final 14:30 of the first half and went on to defeat North Dakota State 62-51 in the quarterfinals of the Summit League Basketball Championships March 6 at the Sioux Falls Arena.
NDSU got off to a good start, opening a 13-6 lead as Janae Burich (six) and Katie Birkel (five) combined for 11 points. Trailing 15-9, the Jacks erupted for a 14-0 run, starting with a layup by Leah Dietel and ending six minutes later with a layup by Jen Schuttloffel.
Then, leading 27-20, the Jackrabbits launched a 9-0 run, pushing their lead to 36-20 on two free throws by Kristin Rotert with two minutes left in the half. It was 39-22 at the break.
NDSU stayed within striking distance, trailing 45-34 after a layup by Danielle DeGagne with 13:13 to play. But the Jacks had one more run left, scoring 13 unaswered points, opening their biggest lead at 60-36 on Dietel’s layup with 6:40 to play.
Sophomore Katie Lingle led SDSU’s balanced offense with 15 points as she hit 7-of-9 from the field. Jill Young added 12. Ten of the Jackrabbits’ 11 players to see action scored, with SDSU holding a 16-7 advantage in bench points.
SDSU shot 56 percent in the first half and finished the game at 47 percent, going 25-of-53, including 6-of-14 from three-point range. At the line, the Jackrabbits made 6-of-10 attempts.
NDSU shot 36 percent, 20-of-55, including 3-of-15 from deep. The Bison converted
8-of-12 free throw attempts, 66.7 percent.
Each team had 33 rebounds as freshman Hannah Strop led the Jacks with six, while Abby Plucker led the Bison with nine.
Burich led NDSU with 18 points, hitting 7-of-10 from the field, while Birkel added 13 and Plucker scored 10.
Quarterfinals: South Dakota State 70, IPFW 67
South Dakota State survived a valiant comeback by IPFW to earn its third straight trip to the Summit League championship game with a 70-67 victory over the Mastodons March 7 at the Sioux Falls Arena.
IPFW scored the first basket of the game, by Stephanie Rosado, before the Jacks opened a 12-5 lead on a three-point basket by Kristin Rotert, who made four three-pointers in the first eight minutes of the game. SDSU began the game making its first eight shots from the field.
The Jacks led the rest of the game, building its largest margin at 66-55 on a layup by Jennifer Schuttloffel with 5:48 to go. IPFW chipped away and came within one at 66-65. Rotert scored a layup and IPFW countered with a pair of free throws from Sydney Weinert, making it 68-67.
With 11 seconds remaining, senior point guard Macie Michelson hit a pair of free throws, putting the Jacks back up by three, and IPFW's last shot, by Jordan Zuppe, was no good as the clock expired.
Rotert hit 6-of-8 three-point shots and led SDSU with 24 points to tie a season high, while Michelson, 3-of-5 beyond the arc, also matched a season high with 15 points.
SDSU out-shot IPFW 55 (27-of-49) to 51 (24-of-47) percent and had a 28-19 rebound advantage, but the Jacks were minus five (16-11) in turnovers. Jennie Sunnarborg, Jen Schuttloffel and Leah Dietel had four rebounds each to lead the Jacks while Weinert led IPFW with seven.
Rosado led IPFW with 16 points and Anne Boese added 12.
Championship: South Dakota State 61, Oakland 54
South Dakota State became the first women's basketball team to win three consecutive Summit League women's basketball tournament championships, claiming a 61-54 victory over Oakland at the Sioux Falls Arena on March 8.
Senior Kristin Rotert, named the tourney MVP, led the Jacks with 17 points while Jennie Sunnarborg just missed a double-double with 13 points and a career-high nine assists. SDSU's ball movement led to 20 assists on 24 field goals.
Sophomore Katie Lingle, who joined the starting lineup in mid-season, added 13 points, six rebounds, two blocked shots and a pair of assists, and was also named to the all-tournament team.
Junior Jill Young, averaging 10 points per game, had just one free throw but finished with a team high nine rebounds.
Oakland, which finished 20-12, led early in the game, never by more than four, before SDSU tied the game at 15 on a three-pointer by Rotert. After Sunnarborg scored for SDSU, Malika Glover tied the game at 17 before the Jacks took the lead for good on a layup by Rotert.
SDSU led 33-29 at the half and built its biggest lead at 53-43 on a three-pointer by Jennifer Schuttloffel with 6:33 to play.
Oakland closed within three, 57-54, after a trio of three-pointers - two by Anna Patritto and one by Bethany Watterworth - but single free throws by Sunnarborg and Young, and finally two by Rotert with 14 seconds left, provided the final margin.
Oakland, which advanced to the title game by knocking off top seed Oral Roberts in the semi-finals, had three players in double figures: Watterworth with 17, Sharise Calhoun with 12 and Zakiya Minifee with 10 pointsand 10 rebounds. Calhoun and Watterworth were each named to the all-tournament team.
SDSU shot 45 percent, 24-of-53, from the field, while OU came in at 40 percent, 21-of-52. OU had a 34-31 rebounding advantage, but the Jacks were plus-five in turnovers after committing a season-low 10 miscues.
SUMMIT LEAGUE SUCCESS: South Dakota State has built an impressive Summit League résumé during its tenure in the 10-team conference.
Since joining the league at the start of the 2007-08 season, the Jackrabbits have compiled a 59-13 record in Summit League regular season games en route to outright league titles with records of 16-2 in 2007-08 and 17-1 during the 2008-09 season.
In addition, SDSU has gone 31-5 at home against league foes and has won at least one game on every other Summit League member’s home court.
SUMMIT LEAGUE HONORS: Kristin Rotert and Jennie Sunnarborg earned second-team honors and Jill Young received honorable mention recognition on the all-Summit League Women’s Basketball Team which was announced March 3.
A senior from Salem, Rotert moved to the second team after earning honorable mention honors the previous two seasons. Rotert averaged 14.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in 18 league games, posting a pair of double-doubles during the season. She also shot a team-best 47 percent from three-point range, making 39-of-83 attempts. Rotert has moved into the top 10 for career scoring at SDSU, entering this weekend's Summit League Championship in 10th place with 1,428 points.
Sunnarborg, a junior from Osseo, Minn., leads the team in scoring, turning in averages of 14.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game during league play, while shooting a team-best 50.2 percent from the field. Sunnarborg tallied 20 or more points in four league contests.
Young earned honorable mention accolades after leading the Jackrabbits in three-pointers made during the regular season, canning 49 of her 72 treys so far this season in league games. A junior from Mitchell, Young averaged 12.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 43.8 percent (49-of-112) from behind the three-point arc and 84.4 percent (38-of-45) at the free throw line.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: During their current eight-game winning streak, the Jackrabbits have been stingy on the defensive end. SDSU is allowing only 51.1 points per game. Also during the winning streak, Jackrabbit opponents have shot a combined 36.4 percent (155-of-426) from the field, including 35-of-121, 28.9 percent, from three-point range.
Entering the NCAA Tournament, the Jackrabbits rank second among Summit League teams in both field goal percentage defense (39.0 percent) and scoring defense (60.4 ppg).
FEASTING IN FEBRUARY: The Jackrabbits have made a habit of ending the regular season strong throughout their time in Division I. With a 6-1 record in the month this season, SDSU has compiled a 44-4 record in February during its seven-year history of competing at the D-I level. That record included a 26-game winning streak in February that ended Feb. 22, 2010, at Oakland.
SEMIS OF THE WNIT: South Dakota State competed in the Preseason Women’s NIT for the first time in program history, opening the season by reaching the semifinals of the 16-team tournament. The Jackrabbits routed Utah Valley, 87-38, in the opening round at Frost Arena and claimed a 76-64 victory over Hampton (Va.) in second-round action. SDSU’s tournament run came to an end with a 73-40 defeat at eventual tournament champion Purdue on Nov. 18.
792 AND COUNTING: SDSU’s victory over Oakland in the 2009 Summit League championship game was the 750th 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 792-356 (.690 winning percentage).
SDSU is assurred of its 25th consecutive winning season between competing at the NCAA Division II and Divsion I levels.The Jackrabbits’ last losing season was an 11-16 campaign during the 1985-86 season.
140 D-I WINS: Sunday’s NCAA Tournament opener will mark South Dakota State’s 200th game against a Division I opponent.
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 six-plus seasons competing at the Division I level, SDSU has compiled a 143-56 mark (.719 winning percentage) versus D-I opposition. The Jackrabbits have posted victories over 53 different Division I teams representing 20 conferences plus independents.
ROTERT ON CAREER LISTS: Senior wing Kristin Rotert continues to move up the SDSU career lists for points and three-pointers.
The Salem native moved into one of the Jackrabbit career three-pointer record after sinking a three three-pointers in the Summit League championship victory over IPFW. She enters Sunday's game with 249 for her career, one behind Brenda Davis' school record of 250 set from 2001-04.
In league play this season, Rotert shot 47 percent from long range, 39-of-83, including going a combined 19-for-36, 52.7 percent, over the last seven games. She sank a trey in 32 of the team's 33 games last season, ending the 2009-10 campaign with a team-high 72 three-pointers, including 14 in three Summit League tournament games.
Rotert set a then-freshman record with 58 three-pointers during the 2007-08 season and ranked second on the team with 60 treys as a sophomore.
Also last season, Rotert became the 29th player in Jackrabbit women's basketball history to score 1,000 points, reaching the milestone in the Summit League tournament semifinal against Western Illinois.With an average of 15.8 points over the last 12 games, Rotert has vaulted into eighth place on the career scoring charts at SDSU with 1,477 points, passing Leah Klaassen (1,466 points from 1995-98) in the Summit League title game.
YOUNG FOR 3: Junior guard Jill Young has been a top-notch long range shooter for the Jackrabbits and enters the NCAA Tournament in sole possession of third place on the SDSU career three-point field goal chart with 219. Young, who has made 45 three-pointers over the last 16 games - including tying a career high with seven three-pointers Feb. 7 at Oral Roberts - broke a tie with Sherri Brende (213 three-pointers from 1998-2001) in the Feb. 26 matchup with North Dakota State. Although her streak of making at least one trifecta ended at 22 in the Summit League championship game, Young has upped her season total to 75 - fifth most in a single season in program history. Young also owns the third- (82 in 2008-09) and 11th-best (62 in 2009-10) single-season three-point totals at SDSU.
SDSU's representative on the Preseason WNIT All-Tournament Team, Young was the lone Jackrabbit to score double figures in all three games, tallying 15 against Utah Valley, 13 versus Hampton and 12 at Purdue. For the tournament, she shot 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from the field, including 9-for-17 from three-point range. She finished with 13.3 points and 2.3 assists per game.
The Mitchell native ranked third among NCAA Division I players during the 2008-09
season by shooting at a 46.1 percent (82-of-178) clip from three-point range. Young's 82 made three-pointers also set a Jackrabbit freshman record.
For her career, Young is shooting 41.5 percent from three-point range, 219-of-528, including a team-best 75-of-181 - 41.4 percent - this season. She entered the week ranked 20th nationally for three-point percentage and has scored 944 career points.
THREE-POINT TANDEM: The Jackrabbits boast one of the top long-range shooting tandems in the history of The Summit League. Combined, Kristin Rotert (249) and Jill Young (219) have combined to make 468 career three-pointers. Individually, Rotert is fourth in the all-time Summit League annals, while Young is tied for ninth.
The IPFW duo of Jordan Zuppe (246) and Anne Boese (222) also has combined for 468 three-pointers, breaking the all-time Summit League record for combined threes by teammates previously set by the Oakland duo of Anne Hafeli (235) and Jayme Wilson (232) from 2003-06.
PALUCH'S PERIMETER PROWESS: Sophomore Steph Paluch gave the Jackrabbits a lift off the bench with strong perimeter shooting against Oakland in their Jan. 24 meeting at Frost Arena. The Pierre native was a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point range to finish with nine points.
Paluch, who has started three games this season, is shooting 12-for-20 (60 percent) from behind the arc for the season. Her career three-point marksmanship also stands at 60 percent (18-of-30).
SUNNARBORG RISES UP: Junior forward Jennie Sunnarborg has performed well on both ends of the floor throughout the 2010-11 season.
A native of Osseo, Minn., Sunnarborg ranks second for the Jackrabbits in scoring with an average of 13.2 points per game, a figure bumped up to 14.3 points per league outing. She entered the week fifth in The Summit League by shooting 51.5percent (168-of-326) from the field, a percentage that also ranks 42nd among Division I players.
Sunnarborg also leads the team with 43 blocked shots (1.41 bpg) this season as she has moved into seventh place on the Jackrabbit career blocked shots charts with 98.
Sunnarborg set a career high with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field in the win over UMKC on Jan. 31. She has reached the 20-point mark six other times this season. Her streak of double-digit games ended at nine Feb. 7 at Oral Roberts, when she scored six.
In a season-opening win over Utah Valley on Nov. 12, Sunnarborg tallied 12 points and tied a career-high with six blocked shots. In her last outing, Sunnarborg collected 13 points and a career-high nine assists versus Oakland in the Summit League championship game.
LINGLE MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Sophomore center Katie Lingle has given the Jackrabbits an additional low-post presence during the second half of the season.
In the second half of the Summit League season, Lingle averaged 8.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and one blocked shot per game, starting seven of the nine contests. In that first career start, Lingle posted the first double-double by an SDSU player this season with 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.
After missing two games due to injury, the Pierre native returned to the lineup Jan. 29 against Southern Utah and contributed seven points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. She then established a new career high for scoring in back-to-back games, tallying 14 points at Centenary (La.) on Feb. 5 and 16 at Oral Roberts two nights later.
MICHELSON COMING ON STRONG: After missing five games earlier this season to injury and illness, senior point guard Macie Michelson has played a key role in the Jackrabbits' late-season success.
Michelson has scored in double figures in three of the last five games, tallying 10 points, including the go-ahead basket, in a Feb. 21 win at IPFW, then scoring 13 points and tying a season high with six assists at North Dakota State on Feb. 26. She tied a season high with 15 points, including going 3-of-5 on three-point attempts, in the Summit League semifinal victory over IPFW.
For the season, Michelson is averaging 6.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.93 assists per game. She ranks third on the team with 19 three-pointers.
COACH AARON JOHNSTON: Now in his 11th 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 NCAA Tournament with a career record of 266-89 (.749 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 No. 250 on Nov. 24, 2010, versus Illinois State. His career totals have included a 59-13 record (.819 winning percentage) in Summit League regular season games and a 16-6 mark (.727 winning percentage) in postseason games.
To read the entire NCAA Tournament preview, access the document at the top of the page.