South Dakota State's quest for a fourth consecutive Summit League tournament title got off to a rousing start Saturday afternoon as the Jackrabbit women's basketball team posted an 80-59 victory over IPFW at the Sioux Falls Arena.
The Jackrabbits, who won for the 13th time in 14 games, improved to 22-8 overall. SDSU will face the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal matchup between fourth-seeded North Dakota State and No. 5 IUPUI at noon Monday in semifinal action.
IPFW ended its season at 9-21 overall.
The Mastodons' Stephanie Rosado scored the first two baskets of the game before SDSU gained control behind the bench tandem of Tara Heiser and Katie Lingle. The duo combined for eight points as the Jackrabbits gained an 11-7 lead just before the under-12-minute media timeout.
A putback basket and three-pointer by reserve Gabrielle Boever extended the Jackrabbit lead to nine and a Heiser triple pushed the margin to 33-16 late in the first half. SDSU's bench players accounted for 18 first-half points as the Jackrabbits led 35-18 at halftime.
Steph Paluch connected on a three-pointer on SDSU's opening possession of the second half to increase the lead to 20 at 38-18. IPFW reeled off the next seven points, but could get no closer than 13 the rest of the way as the Jackrabbits responded with an 8-0 run. The SDSU advantage grew to as many as 28 points, 64-36, on a Rachel Walters three-pointer with under seven minutes to play.
Four Jackrabbits scored in double figures, with Jennie Sunnarborg leading the way with 14 points. Paluch tallied 13 points, while Lingle added 12 and Heiser chipped in with a season-high 10.
The Jackrabbits finished the game 30-of-56 from the field, 53.6 percent, including 11-of-18 on three-point attempts. SDSU did struggle at the line, however, going 9-of-17 for 52.9 percent.
SDSU dominated the rebounding category, 41-23. Leah Dietel, Sunnarborg and Lingle all shared team-high honors with six rebounds. Dietel also contributed a career-high six assists.
IPFW was led by Amanda Hyde with 19 points and six rebounds. Rosado finished with 17 points, while Sarah Haluska added 10.
The Mastodons ended the game 19-of-53 from the field, 35.8 percent, including 5-of-19 on three-point attempts. IPFW was a perfect 16-of-16 at the line.
NOTES: SDSU improved to 10-0 in Summit League tournament games ... the Jackrabbits hold a 17-1 series advantage over IPFW and have eliminated the Mastodons from the tournament each of the last three years ... SDSU is 20-4 this season when out-rebounding the opposition ... Jackrabbit reserves have out-scored the opposition's counterparts in 13 consecutive games, including a 38-6 advantage on Saturday ... Boever finished with a career-high seven points and matched her career high with four assists ... SDSU recorded 22 assists, compared to six by IPFW ... Jill Young made a pair of second-half three-pointers to up her career total to 294 - seven behind IPFW's Anne Boese for the Summit League career record ... Young also made both of her free throw attempts, improving to 75-of-83, 90.4 percent, for the season ... Sunnarborg moved into fourth place in career blocked shots at SDSU with 109