South Dakota State women win Summit championship 61-55
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) Macy Miller had 18 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday to lead South Dakota State to a 61-55 win over South Dakota to capture the Summit League championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The defense-led victory gives South Dakota State (26-6) its seventh trip to the March tournament in the past eight years. Freshman guard Madison Guebert added 14 points for the Jackrabbits, sinking three of her six 3-point attempts at key moments in the game.
Nicole Seekamp, the Summit League Player of the Year, led South Dakota (26-6) with 22 points, and Kelly Stewart added 11 points for the Coyotes.
Defense dominated, with both teams shooting 34 percent during the game.
Seekamp said she thought that the Coyotes' transition defense wasn't as good as it could have been in the second half.
''They're a great transition team, and I thought sometimes that we kind of got lost, and that's when they kind of made big plays,'' Seekamp said.
Both teams tried to drive to the basket early but struggled to sink shots within the paint. The Jackrabbits hit just 22 percent of their first-quarter shots, missing nine layups.
Gaby Boever, one of just two seniors on the young South Dakota State team, said there was no panic, and the Jackrabbits concentrated on taking their time and finishing.
''I feel like we were rushing, trying to create contact that necessarily wasn't there,'' Boever said.
South Dakota also struggled early, shooting under 27 percent in the opening period while missing five jumpers and four layups.
The squads improved their shooting a bit in the later quarters, but defense continued to dominate. The Coyotes headed to the locker room with a 27-26 lead at the half, but South Dakota State reversed it at the end of the third quarter, taking a 40-38 lead.
Guebert said the team applied a lot of defensive pressure and spread the ball among its shooters.
''Offensively, we were really moving the ball well, sharing it, knocking down shots,'' she said.
South Dakota entered the game with the nation's ninth-best scoring offense at 79.5 points per game, and the Coyotes scored 73 and 78 points in the first two rounds of the tournament. The team ran into a South Dakota State defense that held its opponents to just 60 points in the first two rounds.
CHARITY STRIPE STRUGGLES
South Dakota typically shoots about 72 percent from the free-throw line but made just 10 of 19 free throws on Tuesday. ''That was a little bit uncharacteristic for us,'' said South Dakota head coach Amy Williams. ''And I think it kind of made us just a little bit uncomfortable.''
The Jackrabbits will learn their opponent Monday evening when the NCAA women's bracket is announced on ESPN. The Coyotes will await an invitation to a postseason tournament.
A total of 8,647 fans packed the Denny Sanford Premier Center on Tuesday afternoon, setting a record for a women's Summit League championship. About two-thirds of the crowd wore the Jackrabbits' blue and gold while the rest donned Coyote red.