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Jackrabbit women hold off late surge to down No. 10 Louisville in Battle 4 Atlantis fifth-place game

SDSU led by as many as 17 points late in the third quarter, but the Cardinals brought themselves back to within a single score in the fourth quarter before the Jackrabbits secured the win.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four Practice
General NCAA basketball
Rick Osentoski / USA Today Sports
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PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — For a moment, it looked like the Battle 4 Atlantis fifth-place game was slipping away from the South Dakota State women's basketball team.

But after watching a 17-point third-quarter lead over Louisville dwindle to just three early in the fourth quarter, the Jackrabbits recovered to pull out a 65-55 upset of the 10th-ranked Cardinals and conquer the eight-team tournament's consolation bracket.

In topping the No. 10 team in the AP Top 25 poll, it became the highest-ranked team SDSU has defeated in the Division I era, having previously defeated No. 12 Penn State (2013) and No. 12 Syracuse (2019).

"Coming into this tournament, we wanted this opportunity. We're so blessed and it's awesome to be here, but we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to play ranked teams," said SDSU guard Dru Gylten. "We wanted to come in fearless, and I think that's how we played today. I think this showed how capable this team is of being so good."

Early on, SDSU eked out to a small two-score edge, but Louisville used a 7-0 spurt over the final 80 seconds of the first quarter to go up 11-8. It was a subpar shooting performance for both sides in the first 10 minutes, as the teams combined to go 8-of-32 overall from the field and 2-of-11 from 3-point range.

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With the Cardinals ahead 17-10 just over three minutes in to the second quarter, SDSU found a spark. Spurred by six points from Myah Selland and four from Kallie Theisen, the Jackrabbits went on a 16-2 run spanning the final 6:13 of the first half to take a 26-19 lead into the break.

It was more of the same in the third quarter, as three straight buckets by Paiton Burckhard in the span of 1:17 early in the period helped SDSU push the lead to double digits for the first time. Later in the frame, a 12-2 run with nine combined points between Madysen Vlastuin and Tori Nelson set the largest lead of the contest at 17 points (45-28) with 2:42 to play in the quarter.

An 11-1 push by the Cardinals over the final 2 1/2 minutes of the third quarter brought them to within 46-39 entering the final 10 minutes. It didn't stop there, either, as preseason second-team All-American Hailey Van Lith scored the Cardinals' first eight points of the final frame on a layup and a pair of 3-pointers.

But behind 14 fourth-quarter points by Selland, the Jacks re-established a double-digit advantage and never let Louisville closer than eight points over the final three minutes to score the upset.

"This was a really good example of what Myah is capable of ... Myah was really special in this game and a huge part of the win," said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston.

SDSU's lone loss in the Battle 4 Atlantis was in the first game to No. 20 UCLA, which went on to win the tournament. In the most recent AP Top 25, which was released earlier on Monday, South Dakota State received four votes.

"That was the best effort we've had so far this year. I thought we were really competitive, engaged and rebounded like we hadn't so far," Johnston said. "... After a loss to UCLA, to come back and beat Rutgers and beat Louisville, that took some toughness and I'm really proud to see our team respond that way."

Selland registered team-highs with 25 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Burckhard added 10 points and five rebounds. Theisen had six points and nine rebounds, as Vlastuin chipped in nine points off the bench.

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SDSU dominated on the glass, pulling down 41 rebounds to Louisville's 24. Despite turning the ball over 20 times and connecting on just three of 19 3-point attempts, the Jacks also held a shooting edge of 44.7% (21-of-47) to 36.4% (20-of-55) and went 20 for 26 at the free-throw line.

"Typically, if you go 3-of-19 from the 3-point line, you'll have a hard time beating a top-10 team. You really have to do a lot of other things well to overcome that," Johnston said. "But we got to the free-throw line, rebounded like crazy, took a bunch of charges when we needed to and were timely offensively."

"I think we're starting to show we can be really intentional offensively and understand what we need to do to be a good team," Johnson continued. "This one was important for us and one they should feel good about. But this isn't a defining win for our season. We've got a lot left in front of us and have to start chasing that next big win."

Van Lith paced all scorers with 26 points, 18 of which came in the second half, and had four rebounds. Olivia Cochran finished with seven points and three boards, while Mykasa Robinson added six points and team-highs in rebounds (five) and assists (four) off the bench for Louisville (4-2).

SDSU (4-2) is in action again next Monday, Nov. 28, on the road at Washington State.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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