SDSU women to face South CarolinaSIOUX FALLS — South Dakota State women’s basketball coach Aaron Johnston says South Carolina will be a tough opponent in the opening round of the NCAA tournament and is glad the game will be played at a neutral site.
By: Dirk Lammers, The Daily Republic
SIOUX FALLS — South Dakota State women’s basketball coach Aaron Johnston says South Carolina will be a tough opponent in the opening round of the NCAA tournament and is glad the game will be played at a neutral site.
Johnston said South Carolina, the No. 4 seed in the Norfolk Region, is a strong, athletic and physical team that puts a lot of pressure on opponents and causes turnovers. The Jackrabbits also will have to be aggressive on the boards in the first-round game in Boulder, Colo., on Saturday night. The game starts at 3:10 p.m. and is being televised on ESPN2.
“When you’re playing an SEC team, that’s a whole new level of rebounding,” Johnston said Monday night.
South Dakota State (25-7), the 13th seed, won an automatic bid to the tournament by defeating South Dakota 56-53 in the Summit League title game.
South Carolina (24-7) earned an at-large bid after losing to No. 19 Texas A&M 61-52 in the Southeastern Conference tournament quarterfinals.
Johnston said if the Jackrabbits are going to pull off a first-round upset, they’ll need good perimeter play, especially from Ashley Eide and Megan Waytashek. He also wants to get Katie Lingle her touches, and he expects good things from sophomore guard Gabrielle Boever, who has stepped up her play during the last month.
“She’s never going to be a point guard — at least this year — who scores a ton of points,” he said. “But she can get some baskets. She can handle pressure. She can create some turnovers herself with her defense.”
South Dakota State played some physical games in the Summit League tournament, and Johnson expects more of the same in Boulder as officials from the major conferences tend to let players play.
“Our style of play, I think, actually matches up pretty well with that,” Johnston said. “We are a very physical team, inside and outside. I hope that’s the way it’s called. That can maybe be an advantage for us.”
The Jackrabbits are making their fifth straight trip to the NCAAs. They won their inaugural game in 2009, but lost their first-round openers the past three seasons.
The team wants to get deeper into the tournament, but it’s not added pressure or nerves.
“I think it’s a real good positive sense of urgency,” Johnston said. “At the end of the day, they want to say they’ve played their best basketball in every game they play form this point on. In the last couple years, we’ve fallen a little bit short of that.”