South Dakota State tops IPFW 86-59 in Summit semisSIOUX FALLS (AP) — Ashley Eide scored 16 points to lead five Jackrabbits in double figures Monday and top-seeded South Dakota State beat IPFW 86-59 in the semifinals of the Summit League women's basketball tournament.
By: By MARCUS TRAXLER , For The Daily Republic
SIOUX FALLS — An annual tradition for South Dakota State women’s basketball has been renewed for a fifth straight year: The Jackrabbits will play for an NCAA tournament berth today.
The top-seeded Jackrabbits shot a blistering 68 percent from the field in the first half and breezed to a Summit League tournament semifinal victory over No. 4 seed IPFW, 86-59, Monday before 5,245 fans in at the Sioux Falls Arena.
The Jacks (24-7) will play rival South Dakota (17-14) at 2:30 p.m. today at the Arena for the Summit League championship and the game will be televised to a national audience on ESPNU.
As has been the case for much of the year for the Jackrabbits, balance ruled the day against the Mastodons (13-17). Senior Ashley Eide set the pace early, scoring six of the first eight SDSU points and finishing 16 points on 8 of 10 shooting. She was joined four teammates in double-figures, including 11 points from Megan Stuart and 10 points each from Gabby Boever, Tara Heiser and Katie Lingle .
“We just had a great focus about us, a great intensity about us and I thought we maintained it for the majority of the game,” SDSU coach Aaron Johnston said.
IPFW, which played a double-overtime affair against Western Illinois Sunday to make the semifinals, looked gassed in the early going. That was the opposite of what IPFW coach Chris Paul had hoped, feeling the game might have given his team a momentum edge.
“South Dakota State plays with a swagger, they play with a confidence, with a belief that they’re going to win every time they’re on the floor,” Paul said. “You can just see it every time they bring someone off the bench and bring them on the floor, it doesn’t look like you skip a beat.”
SDSU took advantage, shooting 18 of 20 from the two-point region of the court in the first half. Even with a slide to 48 percent shooting in the half, the Jacks lead grew to as much as 30 points in the final minutes, as SDSU’s chances for a fifth straight title neared.
“We just played with a lot more passion and intensity,” SDSU’s Megan Waytashek said. “You could tell we were having a good timeout there and it shows when we’re all playing together.”
As for playing in-state rival USD, a team the Jacks edged twice this season, the opponent didn’t matter much to the Jacks. Not much of that matters to Johnston.
“I don’t know that I would worry too much about it,” he said after Monday’s win. “We didn’t win today’s game because we swept Fort Wayne earlier in the year. We won today’s game because of how we played today.”