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SDSU women to play UTEP in WNIT semifinal

BROOKINGS (AP) — Upperclassmen are leading South Dakota State University on its run through the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, coach Aaron Johnston said.

SDSU beat Indiana 76-64 in the quarterfinals Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the WNIT. A season-high 3,972 fans turned out for the game in Brookings.

Junior Megan Waytashek led SDSU with 20 points. Senior Steph Paluch had 19 points, and junior Mariah Clarin had 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

“If you look at the juniors and seniors, they’re playing well ... for the most part that group has been exceptional,” Johnston said after the game. “They’ve practiced really well, had great focus about them. They’re trying to make plays that are big plays. They’re not shying away from big shots.”

The Jackrabbits will play UTEP in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday in El Paso, Texas. The other semifinal will be South Florida vs. Rutgers.

SDSU’s hopes of making the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year were dashed when rival South Dakota beat the Jackrabbits in the semifinals of the conference tournament. But no Summit League team has ever made it to the semifinals of the 64-team WNIT.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Clarin said. “Not very many people get this opportunity.”