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WBK: SDSU Prepares For WNIT Sweet 16

March 25, 2014, 10:40 PM by Travis Fossing

WBK: SDSU Prepares For WNIT Sweet 16
BROOKINGS, SD -

After a disappointing performance in the Summit League tournament, the pendulum is swinging SDSU's way, as the Jacks stand among the final 16 teams in the WNIT.

"This has been a really great opportunity for our program.  Win some post-season games, and have some fun doing it," SDSU Junior Mariah Clarin said.

After a sluggish start against Creighton, SDSU seized command, scoring 28 consecutive points, en route to a 62-51 win.

"We all just came together and stayed poised, and just said we've got to get going, otherwise our season could be over.  So, we really just kicked it into gear, really picked up our defense and didn't let them score.  It was just a fun time, and Frost Arena got pretty wild," SDSU Junior Megan Waytashek said.

"Thankfully, about mid-way through that first half, everybody found another gear and really picked things up.  Our defense was very disruptive from that point on and limited some of their easy shots, and then we started making some shots.  Sometimes this time of year that's all it takes.  You need to hit a couple to get your confidence and momentum going, and that can take you a long way," SDSU Head Coach Aaron Johnston said.

SDSU will host Minnesota in the Sweet 16.  The Gophers will travel to Brookings for the first time since 1978, and with eight Minnesota natives on the Jacks' roster, State is eager to play the U of M.

"Being from Minnesota, I grew up watching the Gophers, and a lot of girls on our team have either played with some of their players or played against them.  It's just going to be a really fun experience," Lino Lakes, Minnesota native Megan Waytashek said.

"This is a game I've thought about since I was in high school.  It's a game you want to play.  You want to play against your home state, and I think all of us Minnesota girls are really excited about it," Princeton, Minnesota native Mariah Clarin said.

"A lot of these players played against each other in high school or played on the same summer teams.  Some of the players were actually teammates for a couple of years.  It's going to be interesting to see how that all plays out.  Obviously, each side is going to be firing pretty hard for their own team, but a lot of history for some of those players, and I know it'll make it a fun game for them," Johnston said.

The Jacks also know Minnesota will be a tough out.

"I just think people don't realize how close they probably were to getting in to the NCAA Tournament.  They had to be one of the last couple of teams that were discussed, and as you get ready for them you can see why they were deserving of that kind of attention.  They've got one of the best players in the country at the point.  Rachel Bantum is phenominal.  They've got some good, young post players.  Just a good team all-around.  It'll be a good test, and it'll be good to have them here in Frost Arena," Johnston said.

SDSU and Minnesota tip-off at 7:00 Thursday night, at Frost Arena.  The winner will meet either Indiana or Northwestern in the WNIT Elite Eight.

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