Jackrabbit women clinch regular season title with win over Kansas City


BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — No. 22/24 South Dakota State women’s basketball won its 20th game of the season in a 73-53 route Kansas City Friday night at Frost Arena. With the win, the Jackrabbits secured the outright Summit League Regular Season Title.

The Jacks, now 20-2 overall and 13-0 in Summit League play, shot 45.8 percent from the field and went 25-of-36 at the free throw line. State outrebounded Kansas City 35-30 and forced nine steals.

Leading the Jacks was Paiton Burckhard and Tylee Irwin, who each scored 19 points and combined for eight rebounds. Mesa Byom scored nine points in seven minutes played as Lindsey Theuninck, Haley Greer and Madysen Vlastuin each scored six points. Theuninck and Vlastuin each added four rebounds while Greer recorded three boards and four assists. Kallie Theisen scored three points, recorded eight rebounds and two assists. Regan Nesheim added four rebounds.

“Good win for us,” head coach Aaron Johnston. “It was a tough week, squared away with everything our players are dealing with and coming off an emotional weekend in Fargo. I really wondered what we had in the tank and I thought we played very well. I think Kansas City is a very good team. Offensively they can really score and they can do it in a variety of ways, from the perimeter and also inside, so I thought we did a nice job.”

Burckhard scored the first eight Jackrabbit points to kick off a hot start from the SDSU offense. State missed just twice in the entire quarter, shooting a solid 11-for-13 from the field (84.6 percent). Kansas City was able to stay within single digits, keeping up with SDSU until a pair of Byom free throws with two minutes to play made it a 22-12 game. A pair of Jackrabbit baskets and a Kansas City layup ended the quarter with the Jacks in front 26-17.

After a Theisen layup opened the second, Kansas City went on a 7-0 run to make it a two possession game inside the seven minute mark. The Jacks responded, outscoring Kansas City 13-6 over the next six minutes to take a 41-33 lead with 1:27 remaining in the half. A Kansas City 3-pointer and a Burckhard layup in the final minute made it a 43-33 game at halftime.

“That first half was a track meet,” Johnston said. “That was a fast-paced basketball game. We were fortunate to make shots the way we did. That tempo was probably quicker than we want to play so we’ll have to do a better job of managing that I think.”

SDSU grew its lead to 17 (50-33) four minutes into the third quarter thanks to a 7-0 run. State did not make a field goal in the final six minutes of the quarter, but six free throws maintained a double digit lead. The Roos ended the quarter with two free throws and a layup to cut the Jackrabbit lead to 56-45 at the end of the third.

Five SDSU free throws, the first four made by Irwin, opened the final frame and stretched the Jackrabbit lead to 61-45 with 8:28 left. Burckhard scored the first field goal of the quarter to put the Jacks up 63-47 at the 7:32 mark. Four consecutive Irwin free throws extended the scoring run to six and stretched the lead to 20 (67-47) with 5:48 to play. Two Stapleton free throws made it a 20 point game and capped off a 73-53 victory. Altogether, the Jacks scored 13 of their 17 fourth quarter points at the free throw line.

“Second half was a completely different kind of game,” Johnston expressed “We just really did a good job, I think of getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line and that really changed things. It slowed the game down for both teams, which was probably playing to our favor, just with the pace part of it. We’ll have some things we can work on from this one tomorrow. How we want to handle some of their actions and getting to the 3-point line a little better. But I was just pleased with how we handled an emotional several days, getting everything together and trying to establish a plan for this team to go forward, and that part of it was really good for this group.”

Game Notes

  • South Dakota State improved to 14-1 all time vs. Kansas City
  • 25 free throw makes and 36 attempts both tie season highs
  • The Jackrabbits secured their seventh regular season title
  • With a win tomorrow, SDSU will go undefeated for the first time in program history

Up Next
South Dakota State faces Kansas City once again tomorrow for the regular season finale. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. inside Frost Arena.

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