BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — No. 22/24 South Dakota State women’s basketball finished the regular season undefeated at home and undefeated in Summit League play after defeating Kansas City 72-66 Saturday night.
The Jacks improved to 21-2 and 14-0 in conference play. State shot 44.4 percent from the field, outrebounded Kansas City 31-24 and made 16 of their 18 free throw attempts.
“What a way to finish off a long grind of a conference season,” head coach Aaron Johnston said. “It kind of felt like that was kind of like how our season has gone. We’ve had to fight pretty hard to be in this position and to go undefeated through the Summit League regular season is a great accomplishment for the team. This is probably the first time I’ve talked about it. Not once throughout this did I bring that up with the team. I don’t know if they did or talked about it on their own, and if they did that’s fine. I really did feel like it was, again, a byproduct of just how we approached everything that was thrown at us this year. Just really tough minded, really resilient, everybody ready to step up and make plays. We’re certainly a different team today than we were two weeks ago, four weeks ago. There’s been a lot of changes that we’ve had to overcome and then some people have played to a really high level.”
Paiton Burckhard scored a season-high 24 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished two assists. Tylee Irwin finished with 17 points, six rebounds and two assists while Madysen Vlastuin rounded out the double digit scorers, scoring a career-best 11 points on a 4-of-5 performance from the field. Lindsey Theuninck recorded six rebounds and five assists and Haley Greer finished with six points, four rebounds and four assists. Kallie Theisen added seven points, three rebounds and two steals.
Burckhard opened the scoring 30 seconds into the game with a 3-pointer to give the Jacks the lead out of the gate. Kansas City quickly responded with a 3 of its own, but State outscored the Roos 10-3 over the next four minutes to take a 13-6 lead at the media timeout. Kansas City scored on its final four possessions to cut the Jackrabbit lead to 17-14 at the end of the first.
The two teams exchanged 3-pointers again at the start of the second to make it a 23-19 game in favor of the Jacks. A 9-0 run started by an Irwin 3-pointer at the 4:41 mark gave the Jacks their largest lead of the half at 39-25 with 2:38 remaining in the frame. Kansas City outscored the Jacks 8-3 to close the half, making it a 42-33 Jackrabbit lead.
The Jacks started the second half on an 8-2 run before a brief 5-0 Kansas City run cut the Jackrabbit lead to 50-40 at the 4:15 mark. State responded with a 7-0 spurt to take a 17 point lead (57-40). With just over two minutes to play in the quarter. Burckhard scored the final four SDSU points of the quarter, leaving the score at 61-45.
Kansas City took advantage of a slow start to the fourth quarter offensively by the Jacks, outscoring SDSU 12-2 in the first three minutes to cut their deficit to 63-57. The Jacks broke the streak with a Vlastuin 3-pointer followed by a Burckhard layup to push the lead back up to double figures (68-57) at the 5:30 mark. A 7-0 run brought the Roos within two possessions for the first time since the second quarter. Irwin’s layup with 20 seconds to go broke a five minute SDSU scoring drought to stretch the lead to six. Kansas City responded four seconds later with a layup, but two Theuninck free throws capped off an exciting finish.
“I just couldn’t be happier to see the team finish out this regular season with a win and do it at home,” Johnston expressed. “It was really a special several months to get to this point, so I’m really happy for the team. They’ve worked incredibly hard to be in this position. Great day for us and certainly a great win for us.”
- South Dakota State is now 15-1 in the all time series against Kansas City
- The Jackrabbits went undefeated in Summit League play for the first time in program history
- Vlastuin scored a career-high 11 points, while Burckhard dropped a season-best 24 points
- SDSU’s 18-game winning streak ranks fourth nationally
The Jackrabbits will prepare for The 2021 Summit League Women’s Basketball Championship taking place March 6-9 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. Seeding and game times will be announced at the conclusion of all Summit League games this weekend.