BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — SDSU’s basketball teams each finished at or near the top of the Summit League standings, following a season that saw the two teams earn a combined 31-5 conference record.
It didn’t take long for the SDSU women to show the Summit League that they were the favorite this season. The Jacks beat Oral Roberts by just three points in their conference opener. They’d then go on to win their next 17 games, with sixteen of them coming by double figures.
“The willingness to learn and to grow and that hunger to try and be better. That’s what I think I really appreciate when I see these long stretches of wins take place,” SDSU women’s head coach Aaron Johnston said.
SDSU has been strong offensively all season, but their biggest improvement has been defensively as the Jacks finished the year as the top defense in the Summit League.
“We weren’t where we needed to be certainly in November and December with our defense. I think that showed up and hurt us in a couple of games,” Johnston said. “Early in the conference season, we tried to put more of a focus on that and go back and break down some small parts, which I thought would make us better.”
On the men’s side, SDSU found themselves with a 6-4 conference record, following a road sweep at St. Thomas and Western Illinois. But they’d get back in the win column with a gritty win at Kansas City, sparking a seven game win streak.
“To be to able to take those two losses and then bounce back at the end of a tough road trip and get that win, I think it did spark a little confidence and belief in our guys,” SDSU men’s head coach Eric Henderson said.
Similar to the women’s team, the SDSU men have found their defensive identity. The Jacks are allowing 69 points per game, which is second best in the conference.
“There’s going to be times when we make a defensive mistake, but as long as your brother has your back and we have those help side defenders over there whenever we need them, I think that’s what has really stepped up in the past eight games,” SDSU guard Zeke Mayo said.
Both SDSU teams will play in the Summit League quarterfinals on Saturday. The women will play at 12:30 p.m., with the men set for 8:30 p.m.