SIOUX FALLS — Four South Dakota State players scored in double figures as the Jackrabbit women's basketball team shook off a sluggish start to defeat IUPUI, 79-54, Monday afternoon and advance to the Summit League championship game for the fourth consecutive year.
The top-seeded Jackrabbits won for the 14th time in 15 games to improve to 23-8 overall. Fifth-seeded IUPUI ended its season end with a 13-19 overall mark. SDSU will face either No. 3 UMKC or No. 7 Western in the championship game at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
SDSU turned the ball over on three of its first four possessions and trailed 16-15 with 8 minutes and 17 seconds remaining in the first half after a Kerah Nelson free throw.
The Jackrabbits regained the lead on a three-pointer by reserve guard Gabrielle Boever and led 20-16 after a steal and layup by Steph Paluch. On the play, however, Paluch suffered a knee injury that will sideline her for the rest of the season.
The momentum further shifted in SDSU's favor with an 8-0 spurt late in the half keyed by a traditional three-point play by Paluch's replacement, Tara Heiser, and Boever's second three-pointer of the half.
For the second tournament game in a row, Boever established a new career high in scoring with 10 of her 12 points coming in the first half to help the Jackrabbits to a 34-24 halftime advantage.
Behind the three-point shooting of senior Jill Young, the Jackrabbits quickly put the game out of reach after intermission. The SDSU career three-point record holder, Young nailed three consecutive three-point attempts in the first 2:02 of the second half to put SDSU up 45-27. Young made it 4-for-4 in the half with a triple from the left corner to put the Jackrabbits ahead 54-34.
The Jackrabbits led by as many as 26 points heading down the stretch.
Young scored all of her game-high 14 points in the second half and added a team-high eight rebounds as the Jackrabbits held a 51-34 advantage on the boards. Jennie Sunnarborg tallied 13 points, with Ashley Eide rounding out the double-figure scorers for SDSU with a dozen points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.
SDSU finished 29-of-66 from the field, 43.9 percent, including 9-of-25 from three-point range. At the line, the Jackrabbits made 12-of-16 attempts, 75 percent.
Nelson, an all-Summit League performer, led the Jaguars with 13 points and nine rebounds, followed by 12 points by Emily Phillips and 10 from Dawn Luster.
IUPUI was 21-of-62 from the field, 33.9 percent, including 3-for-13 on three-pointers. The Jaguars ended the afternoon 9-of-18 from the free throw line.
NOTES: SDSU improved to 11-0 all-time in Summit League tournament games ... the Jackrabbits have won all 12 meetings against IUPUI ... the two programs also met in the Summit League semifinals in 2009, with SDSU winning, 68-53 ... Young upped her career three-point total to 298 and moved into fifth place on the Jackrabbit single-season three-point chart with 76 ... Young now holds three of the top five single-season three-point totals in Jackrabbit history ... SDSU is 18-3 when leading at the half and 21-4 when out-rebounding the opposition ... the Jackrabbits finished with a 32-6 advantage in bench points, including nine by Katie Lingle ... SDSU committed 19 turnovers, but was credited with 19 assists ... the Jackrabbits' 51 rebounds were a season high and including 18 on the offensive glass