Summit League Preview: South Dakota State Women at Denver, Oral Roberts
Halfway home that's exactly what's happening as the Jackrabbits (15-6/7-1 Summit League) and Coyotes (19-3/7-1 Summit League) have separated themselves from the field by two full games.
SDSU's only blemish in the conference's first half was a double-overtime loss to USD in week two.
The Jackrabbits second half starts at Denver.
The Pioneers (12-9/5-3 Summit League) have won two of three and were the lone team to knock off USD in the first half of the season.
DU, typically one of the top shooting teams in the Summit, is coming off of their worst shooting performance of the season, hitting just 26 percent in a loss at Purdue-Fort Wayne. The Pioneers also turned it over 20 times against the Mastodons.
Offensively, Denver is the most up-tempo team in the conference averaging nearly 65 attempts per game. They're also first in blocked shots and steals and second in rebounding.
Junior Madison Nelson is having an outstanding season. She leads the Summit in rebounding, is second in steals, and third in scoring. Junior Lauren Loven is the league's top three-point shooter and a top-five scorer.
Tipoff is 8:00 PM, Thursday (January 31) in Denver.
The Jackrabbits won the first meeting, 76-59, in Brookings.
The game was even after one quarter before SDSU started the second on an 11-0 run. They followed that up with an 18-2 run early in the third quarter.
South Dakota State shot 52 percent in the second half, 46 percent for the game. The Jacks grabbed 17 offensive rebounds (Myah Selland with 8), forced 17 turnovers, and scored 36 points in the paint.
The Pioneers shot just 33 percent but stayed in the game thanks to ten three-pointers.
Selland and Macy Miller each scored 18 to lead SDSU. DU was led by Nelson's 14 points.
The SDSU road trip continues at Oral Roberts.
The Golden Eagles (11-10/4-4 Summit League) have dropped three-of-four but did break out of a slump with a 101-point game against North Dakota State last time out.
ORU has been hitting the offensive glass hard lately, collecting 25 of their own rebounds in the last two games.
The Golden Eagles are the number-one three-point shooting team in the Summit and guard Lakota Beatty recently hit eight triples against South Dakota.
Guard Maya Mayberry is coming off of her best game of the season - 31 points and six three-pointers against NDSU.
Tipoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday (February 2) in Tulsa.
The Jackrabbits won the first meeting, 68-55, in Brookings.
Neither team shot the ball well. ORU hit 35 percent from the field, SDSU just 33 percent.
But the Jackrabbits were dominant on defense and on the boards. They forced 16 turnovers and grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, finishing the game plus-16 on the glass.
Selland led South Dakota State with 19 points. Lakota Beatty was 6-of-12 for 15 points to lead the Golden Eagles.
Last Wednesday (January 23), the Jackrabbits were dominant from the start in an 86-33 win over North Dakota State.
SDSU used a 14-0 first-quarter run to build a 16-point lead after the first quarter.
The Jackrabbit defense was stifling in the first half, limiting the Bison to just 29 percent shooting and scoreless (0-of-8) from the three-point line.
South Dakota State shot a blistering 61 percent in the second half and led by as many as many as 61 points. Madison Guebert led all scorers with 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including five three-pointers.
The defense forced 22 turnovers which led to 24 points and didn't allow NDSU a single second-chance point.
Saturday (January 26), SDSU started by scoring the first nine points of the game against Omaha but saw the Mavericks rally to within three in the second quarter.
The Jacks got ten first-half points from Tagyn Larsen on 3-of-4 shooting to open up a six-point lead at intermission.
The third quarter was all South Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits opened up hitting 10 of their first 13 shots while Omaha missed their first 13 attempts while turning the ball over five times. When the quarter was over, SDSU had outscored UNO 24-3.
State shot 54 percent to Omaha's 21 percent in the second half in the 81-47 win. Selland had four second-half steals and finished the game with 15 points, leading four double-figure scorers.
I talked with Jackrabbits head coach Aaron Johnston about last week's games and the match-ups with Denver and Oral Roberts: