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SDSU women beat Indiana for spot in WNIT Final Four

South Dakota State University’s Mariah Clarin spots up for a jumper over Indiana University’s Lyndsay Leikem in the first half of their WNIT quarterfinal game Sunday afternoon at Frost Arena in Brookings. (Dave Eggen/Inertia)

BROOKINGS — With three players scoring in double figures, the South Dakota State University women’s basketball team (26-9) defeated Indiana (21-13), 76-64, in the quarterfinals of the Women’s NIT Sunday in front of a season-high 3,972 fans in Frost Arena.

Megan Waytashek (Lino Lakes, Minn.) led the Jackrabbits with 20 points while Steph Paluch (Pierre) added 19 points and Mariah Clarin (Princeton, Minn.) recorded 15 points and a game-high seven rebounds. Mitchell native and freshman Kerri Young was held scoreless in the contest.

SDSU made 10 three-point field goals for the third time in four WNIT contests. The Jackrabbits also blocked a season-high nine shots. Clarin and Clarissa Ober (Glencoe, Minn.) each blocked three.

Indiana was led by Alexis Gassion’s 22 points. Larryn Brooks added 16 points.

The teams traded the lead throughout most of the first half. Ober sank a three-point field goal with 7:58 left to give the Jackrabbits a 25-16 lead.

However, Brooks and Gassion led a 10-0 run giving the Hoosiers a 26-25 lead with 4:39 remaining. The Jackrabbits answered with an 11-3 run, including five points by Waytashek, to close the half and take a 36-29 lead at the break.

A conventional three-point play by Waytashek gave SDSU a 43-34 lead with 16:41 remaining. Indiana would cut the lead to four points, 46-42, with 12:45 remaining and then to three, 54-51, with 7:33 left. The Jackrabbits then went on an 8-2 run, capped by two foul shots by Clarin at 5:25. SDSU closed the game making eight consecutive free throws.

The Jackrabbits’ 26 wins are the second-most in NCAA Division I school history, second to the 32 wins in the 2008-09 and 2002-03 seasons. SDSU extends its home win streak to 21 games, 18 coming this season. The game was SDSU’s 300th against a Division I opponent. The Jackrabbits are now 217-83 against its DI foes.

SDSU will now face the winner of today’s UTEP vs. Washington game in the WNIT’s Final Four Wednesday or Thursday. Location and time is yet to be determined.

— Source: South Dakota State University