ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

South Dakota State women balance talented point guards in perfect Summit start

Of course, the Jacks can play both Dru Gylten and Paige Meyer at the same time. SDSU coach Aaron Johnston wants to do that — but not too much.

Gylten_MirandaSampsonSampsonSnapshots.jpg
South Dakota State's Dru Gylten brings the ball up the court in a women’s basketball against North Dakota State on Jan. 5, 2023 at Frost Arena in Brookings.
Miranda Sampson / Sampson Snapshots via SDSU Athletics
We are part of The Trust Project.

BROOKINGS — At 16-5 overall and 9-0 in Summit League play, things are going well for South Dakota State's women's basketball team.

There's just one problem. And it's one of those good problems.

What to do at point guard?

Paige Meyer emerged last year as one of the most exciting young players in the Summit League, averaging 10.4 points as a freshman while shooting .528/.534/.840 before suffering a major knee injury just before the postseason.

University of South Dakota at South Dakota State University Basketball
South Dakota State's Paige Meyer brings the ball up the court during a women's basketball game on Jan. 14, 2023 against the University of South Dakota at Frost Arena in Brookings.
Dave Eggen / Inertia Photos via SDSU Athletics

In the offseason, the Jacks acquired Dru Gylten in the transfer portal, and the former Pac-12 assists leader has run the offense with a steady hand. A pass-first distributor, Gylten leads the team with 72 assists, has a 2-to-1 assist/turnover ratio and as a senior with major conference experience, was the perfect person to step in with Meyer out.

ADVERTISEMENT

But now Meyer is back, and steadily working her way back to her old self. She's averaging 8.7 points, 3.3 assists and 2.1 steals while shooting .509 from the floor coming off the bench, where she's played 18.3 minutes a game.

So what's the plan, Aaron Johnston?

"The plan is continue to move forward with what we're doing," the coach said. "It's more than just who the starter is. It's how do they impact what's going on around them. How do we make sure the best combination, the best lineups, are on the floor at the same time. Dru has been the starter and we expect her to continue in that world, but we've talked about what it would look like with Paige in the starting lineup. They're both gonna play a lot and have big roles for us."

MORE FROM MATT ZIMMER
Members Only
"Getting that edge back is really what we needed," USD coach Kayla Karius said.

Meyer scored a season-high 16 points in SDSU's last game, in a season-high 25 minutes. It's likely she's only going to get better, both as she continues to build strength and confidence in her leg, and as she gains more experience as a still-young player. And Gylten's play, not to mention the contributions of freshmen Madison Mathiowetz and Ellie Colbeck (who have both struggled as shooters but otherwise been encouraging), means Johnston can afford to be patient with Meyer.

Of course, the Jacks can play both Gylten and Meyer at the same time. Johnston wants to do that — but not too much.

"That lineup has been good, but when you play them together you're taking what makes them good away from one of them, and that's having the ball in their hands, distributing," Johnston said. "Can we play with both of them? Sure, but it takes that away. That's why tight ends don't play quarterback and vice versa. They have to be in their skillset. There will be times we need that lineup and times we need just one of them on the floor, too."

SDSU hosts St. Thomas on Thursday and Western Illinois on Saturday.

Matt Zimmer is a Sioux Falls native and longtime sports writer. He graduated from Washington High School where he played football, legion baseball and developed his lifelong love of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, he returned to Sioux Falls, began a long career in amateur baseball and started working as a sports freelancer. Zimmer was hired as a sport reporter at the Argus Leader in 2004, where he covered Sioux Falls high schools and colleges before moving to the South Dakota State University beat in 2014.
What To Read Next
Zeke Mayo's career day lifts Jackrabbits to rivalry win
South Dakota State running away with regular season title
The Tigers turned an eight-point halftime edge into a 27-point GPAC road win behind their surge coming out of halftime.
The school’s lack of connection with South Dakota students is a reason on why the school is closing, with a direct view of that problem coming from the makeup of the Saints' teams.