Jacks face road test at Oakland
Tipoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time (5:30 p.m. Central) at the Athletics Center O'rena on the Oakland University campus in Rochester, Mich.
The defending Summit League-champion Jackrabbits enter the week riding a five-game winning streak, during which they have improved to 11-5 overall SDSU recorded home wins over North Dakota State, Kansas City and South Dakota en route to its 3-0 start in league play.
Oakland, which was picked third in the Summit League preseason poll, has compiled a 7-8 overall record and 1-2 mark so far in conference play. The Golden Grizzlies, who have played the entire season without Summit League Preseason Player of the Year Bethany Watterworth, split its opening weekend of Summit action with a loss to Western Illinois and a home win over IUPUI before dropping a 59-41 decision Jan. 3 at Omaha.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Audio 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. Video streaming will be available at OUGrizzlies.com.
Local radio coverage begins at 5 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, KBRK 93.7 FM in Brookings, and Pierre-based KGFX 92.7 FM.
THE SERIES: The series between South Dakota State and Oakland has developed into one of the top rivalries in The Summit League as the two programs have met twice in league championship games (2009, 2011).
Overall, the Jackrabbits lead the all-time series by a 9-3 count, including winning both championship matchups. The two programs split three consecutive season series (2009-11) before the Jackrabbits recorded a pair of 10-point victories last season.
In the first meeting last season, Dec. 29, 2011, at Frost Arena, the Jackrabbits controlled the final seven minutes of each half to post a 62-52 victory.
Oakland led 24-15 after two Malika Glover free throws with 7 minutes, 18 seconds to play in the first half, but the Golden Grizzlies went scoreless over the next six-plus minutes while the Jackrabbits began to hit their stride offensively. Ashley Eide scored six points as part of a 13-0 SDSU outburst that was punctuated by a three-pointer from the right wing by Jill Young. The Jackrabbits extended their lead to 32-27 on a runner by Steph Paluch with two seconds remaining in the first half.
Oakland stayed within a point on two more occasions before the Jackrabbits put together one final surge. Jennie Sunnarborg, who scored a game-high 21 points, put SDSU up seven, 49-42, with 7:25 to play and gave the Jackrabbits their largest lead of the night, 58-47, with a basket a tick under the three-minute mark.
Eide finished with 17 points, while Young scored 12 as she sank a pair of three-pointers in setting the Jackrabbit career three-point record with 251.
The Golden Grizzlies were led by Bethany Watterworth's 13 points. Sharise Calhoun added 11.
In the rematch, Jan. 30, 2012, in Rochester, Mich., South Dakota State reserves keyed a 15-3 run early in the second half to get the Jackrabbits over the hump in a 61-51 victory.
Trailing 32-26 early in the second half, SDSU reeled off the next 12 points to grab control of the game. All 12 points came off the bench as Katie Lingle started the streak with two baskets, Hannah Strop added a bucket and freshman Rachel Walters hit consecutive three-pointers.
Meanwhile, Oakland went without a field goal for more than 10 minutes to start the second stanza. The Golden Grizzlies were 0-for-7 from the field before Shelby Herrington ended the drought with a jumper at the 9:08 mark to pull OU to within 43-37.
The Jackrabbits continued to build their lead from the perimeter as five of their next six baskets were of the three-point variety. Young hit her fourth three-pointer of the game and Walters hit two more from long range to push the margin to 12 points, 55-43, with less than four minutes to play.
Young paced the Jackrabbits with 15 points, followed by a career-high 12 from Walters and 10 by Ashley Eide. SDSU made 12 three-pointers in the
Bethany Watterworth scored a game-high 25 points, with Calhoun adding 11 to lead Oakland.
SUMMIT LEAGUE PREVIEW: After capturing its record fourth-straight tournament title and third regular season title in five years, South Dakota State was tabbed as the 2012-13 women's basketball preseason favorite. The Jackrabbits collected 22 first-place votes and 330 points in voting conducted by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media. Oakland's Bethany Watterworth was selected as the preseason Player of the Year.
Last season's Summit League Tournament finalist, Kansas City, placed second in the poll with 260 points and one first-place vote. Oakland, North Dakota State and IUPUI were separated by just 21 points for the third through fifth slots with the Jaguars claiming one first-place tally. South Dakota edged out Western Illinois for sixth place while Fort Wayne and league newcomer Omaha rounded out the poll. The Mastodons collected the final first-place vote.
Watterworth, an all-league first team selection each of the last two years and second team honoree as a freshman in 2010, was the preseason selection for Player of the Year after scoring a team-high 18.7 points and grabbing 5.4 rebounds per game.
Joining Watterworth on the first team are Kansas City teammates Kim Nezianya, an all-tournament team honoree, and Eilise O'Connor. The duo helped lead the Kangaroos to just their second appearance all-time in the championship game last year. An all-league first teamer last season, IUPUI's Kerah Nelson captured a spot on the preseason first team, while North Dakota State's Katie Birkel and South Dakota State's Ashley Eide also earned the distinction.
The second team is highlighted by returning Newcomer of the Year Saule Kontautaite of Western Illinois. She is accompanied by North Dakota State's Janae Burich, a second team all-league selection, IUPUI's Katie Comello, Oakland's Zakiya Minifee and Omaha's Paige Frauendorfer.
The Summit League concluded a record-setting season a year ago finishing the year ranked No. 19 in the College Basketball News RPI, peaking as high as No. 11 midseason. The league sent a record four teams to postseason tournaments and set a new women's league tournament attendance record.
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.).
826 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 826-371 (.690 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.
175 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 176-71 mark (.713 winning percentage) versus D-I opposition. The Jackrabbits have posted victories over 57 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 156-23 record (.872 winning percentage) at Frost Arena, including a 101-15 mark (.871winning 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, but has since won its last six home contests.
Since the start of the 2001-02 season, SDSU has a 146-18 home record (.890 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
compiled a 78-15 record (.839 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 43-5 at home (.896 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 sophomore from Lino Lakes, Minn., Waytashek has scored in double figures in 12 of 16 games this season, with a pair of 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 free throw line.
Waytashek enters the weekend second on the team in scoring at 13.2 points per game. She also ranks second with 26 three-pointers, is tied for second in rebounds (third in rebounds (69/4.3 rpg) and fourth in steals (20).
COUNTDOWN TO 1,000: Senior guard Ashley Eide is on pace to join the Jackrabbit 1,000-Point Club this season.
A Sioux Falls native, Eide enters the week with 879 career points after hitting the 20-point mark for the fourth time in five games with a game-high 22-point outing against South Dakota on Jan. 6. Eide 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 the Jackrabbits' Nov. 18 upset win over nationally ranked Nebraska and scored 21 in an overtime loss to Marquette (Wis.) on Nov. 28.
Eide currently ranks leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game and also paces the team with 35 three-pointers. In the most recent NCAA statistics, she ranks 14th among Division I players this season for three-point shooting at 44.9 percent (35-for-78).
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. She become the 32nd player in Jackrabbit women's basketball history to score 1,000 points.
EIDE HONORED: South Dakota State University guard Ashley Eide was named Summit League Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 24 after leading the Jackrabbits to a pair of victories.
A senior from Sioux Falls, Eide averaged 26 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in wins over Delaware State and Georgetown. In the Dec. 18 home matchup with Delaware State, Eide tallied 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. At Georgetown on Dec. 21, Eide tied a career high with 27 points and established new
career highs with seven three-pointers and 13 rebounds.
In the two games combined, Eide was 17-of-27 from the field, 63 percent, including 9-for-17 from three-point range. She was 9-for-9 at the free throw line in the win over Delaware State. For the season, Eide is averaging a team-best 15.3 points per game and leads the squad with 32 three-pointers.
She also was named Mid-Major Women's Basketball Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com.
Eide was the second Jackrabbit player during the month of December to earn the weekly Summit award. Forward Megan Waytashek shared the honor on Dec. 10 after leading the Jackrabbits to victories over a pair of postseason-qualifying teams from a year ago - Eastern Michigan and Northern Iowa.
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 7.5 points per game and fourth in rebounding at 4.1 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 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.
She enters the week tied for 12th on the Jackrabbit career blocked shots chart with 70.
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 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 has tallied at least five rebounds in 11 of the last 15 games. She currently leads the team with an average of 5.9 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, 113 of Walters' 120 shot attempts have been from three-point land. During the 2012-13 season, all but one of her 41 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.
STROP SETTLES IN: Junior forward Hannah Strop has made a successful transition to the Jackrabbit starting lineup in recent weeks.
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 career high with six rebounds - a total she again equaled Dec. 18 against Delaware State.
On Dec. 30 against North Dakota State, Strop connected on 3-of-4 three-point attempts en route to a season-high 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, equaling her season high with of nine points.
In her seven starts, she is averaging 4.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from three-point range.
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 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 nine games and have been tied twice in 16 contests.
DOUBLE DUTY: The Jackrabbit women's basketball team has received double-double performances from three different players this season, including two by sophomore forward Megan Waytashek.
Waytashek posted the team's first double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in a Dec. 1 home victory over Middle Tennessee. Her second double-double was a 15-point, 11-rebound outing Jan. 3 against Kansas City. Waytashek's 11 boards were a career high.
Ashley Eide's 27-point, 13-rebound performance Dec. 21 at Georgetown marked season highs by an SDSU player in both categories during the 2012-13 campaign.
Leah Dietel turned in a double-double performance Dec. 18 against Delware State, scoring a career-high 16 points while tying a career best with 10 rebounds.
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, who coached his 400th career game Dec. 16 at Penn State, enters the weekend with a career record of 301-104 (.743 winning percentage). He is currently tied atop the Jackrabbit career victories list with 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.), earned his 250th victory versus Illinois State on Nov. 24, 2010, and logged career win No. 300 against Kansas City on Jan. 3, 2013. His career totals have included a 78-15 record (.839 winning percentage) in Summit League regular season games, putting him at the top of the league's career winning percentage charts.Johnston also has led the Jackrabbits to 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.
TOEING THE LINE: During their current five-game winning streak, the Jackrabbits have made the most of their trips to the free throw line by converting 99-of-126 attempts for 78.6 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.
Sophomore forward Megan Waytashek has led the free throw effort by going a perfect 22-for-22 over the last five games. 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 early portion of the Summit League season. The Jackrabbits have shot at least 48 percent in each of their first three league games, including a season-best 50 percent (28-of-56) against North Dakota State in the league opener on Dec. 30.
Combined in the three game, the Jackrabbits shot 48.8 percent (80-of-164) from the field, including 20-of-50 from three-point range. SDSU also has averaged 76.7 peoints per Summit League game.
Adding to the offensive efficiency is the fact that the Jackrabbits have averaged only 12 turnovers per game — more than six 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 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 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 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 wrap up their first Summit League road trip of the season with a matinee Saturday in Fort Wayne, Ind. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. Eastern Time (1 p.m. Central) at the Hilliard Gates Sports Center on the IPFW campus.