South Dakota State senior Steph Paluch (Pierre) scored the game-winning layup with four seconds left as the Jackrabbits defeated Western Illinois, 67-66, in Summit League women’s basketball action Thursday in front of 1,085 fans in Western Hall.
With the victory, SDSU improves to 12-7 overall, 3-0 in Summit League and extends its win streak to three games. Western Illinois falls to 9-8 overall and 1-1 in league play.
Junior Megan Waytashek (Lino Lakes, Minn.) registered her first double-double of the season and the fourth of her career with a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds. Paluch finished with 15 points, including going 6 for 6 from the foul line. Junior Mariah Clarin (Princeton, Minn.) had 10 points.
Paluch sank both free throws in a one-and-one opportunity to tie the game at 63 with 1:05 remaining. Western Illinois’ Paige Harmon hit the second of a two-shot foul to put the Leathernecks up 64-63 with 43.4 left. Paluch went back to the foul line, sinking both with 28.7 left before Michelle Maher’s two free throws gave WIU the 66-65 lead with 9.8 remaining. Paluch went coast-to-coast for the game-winning layup on the next play.
Trailing for most the game, the Jackrabbits opened the second half with a 12-2 run fueled by a pair of three-pointers from Waytashek and senior Tara Hesier (Watertown) to pull within 39-37 with 15:52 left.
Western Illinois pushed the lead back to 47-39 when Harman sank a three-pointer with 13:32 on the clock. The Jackrabbits then went on a 17-7 run to take the lead on a pair of free throws by Paluch with 7:02 remaining.
The teams traded leads until Paluch’s game-winning layup.
In the first half, the Jackrabbits trailed 9-4 early, but rebounded with a 9-2 run that included a traditional three-point play by Waytashek at 9:40. Western Illinois responded with an 8-0 to take a 21-15 lead with 6:13 left.
The Leathernecks sank four from the free-throw line, hit a three-pointer and made a layup to take a 35-25 lead into halftime.
South Dakota State shot 37.7 percent from the field, 23.1 percent from three-point range and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line. The Jacks outrebounded the Leathernecks, 47-27, including 17-4 on the offensive boards.
Ashley Luke led Western Illinois with 21 points. Maher added 16.
South Dakota State continues its three-game road swing Saturday when it travels to Omaha, Neb., to take on Omaha at 2 p.m. in Sapp Fieldhouse.
Courtesy: Michele Schmidt, SDSU