SIOUX FALLS -- South Dakota State made just enough plays down the stretch, overcoming cold-shooting with solid defense en route to its fifth consecutive Summit League women’s basketball tournament title with a 56-53 victory over rival South Dakota Tuesday afternoon before a record crowd of 6,153 people at the Sioux Falls Arena.
The Jackrabbits, who upped their record to 15-0 all-time in the Summit League Basketball Championship, improved to 25-7 overall.
After trailing most of the day, the Jackrabbits regained the lead at 47-46 on a Katie Lingle basket with 6:32 to play. The game was tied at 50-all before Ashley Eide gave SDSU the lead for good with two free throws with 4:37 to play. A Lingle basket 50 seconds later off an Eide assist pushed the margin to 54-50.
USD trimmed the deficit to 54-53 with 1:11 to play before both teams came up empty on their next possessions. Eide was fouled on the ensuing possession and the senior calmly sank both free throws for what would be the final margin.
After a Coyote timeout, SDSU opted to foul USD’s Alexis Yackley on the inbounds with 5.8 seconds remaining. Yackley missed the front end of the one-and-one, but got the rebound and attempted a tying three-pointer that rimmed off the iron.
SDSU led 10-6 after a Hannah Strop three-pointer at the 16:39 mark of the first half, but the Jackrabbits went cold from the field after that point. Behind the play of tournament most valuable player Nicole Seekamp, the Coyotes took the lead at 15-12 on a Seekamp three-pointer and later went on an 11-2 run to go up 28-19 with 4:19 to play in the first half.
The Jackrabbits tied the contest at 35-all on a Megan Waytashek layup less than three minutes into the second half, but couldn’t gain the lead for another 11 minutes.
Waytashek led SDSU with 11 points and added seven rebounds. Eide finished with 10 points, while Gabby Boever collected nine points and a career-high seven steals. Seniors Katie Lingle and Leah Dietel each scored eight points, with Lingle pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds.
Seekamp scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the first half, with Tempestt Wilson adding 10 points. Lisa Loeffler led the Coyotes with nine rebounds. Onida native and Sully Buttes graduate Yackley added seven rebounds, six assists and four points.
Eide and Boever represented SDSU on the all-tournament team. Other all-tournament selections included Wilson from USD and IUPUI’s Kerah Nelson.
SDSU now leads the all-time series against the Coyotes, 51-22. The Jackrabbits have won 32 of the last 35 meetings and three in a row.
In three tournament games, the Jackrabbits shot 86 percent (49 of 57) from the free throw line. SDSU made 19 of 23 against USD.
The Coyotes (17-15) will have to wait until late Monday night to learn if their resume is good enough for a WNIT invitation. South Dakota hosted two WNIT games a year ago.
The Jackrabbits earned the automatic NCAA Division I Tournament bid to their fifth tourney in a row with the Summit League Tournament title. They will find out their destination and seed on Monday during the selection show at 6 p.m. on ESPN.
SOUTH DAKOTA (17-15): Polly Harrington 3-9 0-0 6, Lisa Loeffler 0-3 3-4 3, Tempestt Wilson 3-16 4-5 10, Alexis Yackley 2-5 0-1 4, Nicole Seekamp 8-15 2-2 20, Sam Mehr 1-1 0-0 2, Pam January 2-3 0-0 4, Margaret McCloud 2-5 0-1 4. Totals 21-57 9-13 53.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (25-7): Hannah Strop 2-8 0-0 5, Leah Dietel 2-5 4-5 8, Gabrielle Boever 4-10 0-0 9, Megan Waytashek 3-8 4-4 11, Ashley Eide 2-5 5-6 10, Tara Heiser 1-7 0-0 3, Chloe Cornemann 0-0 0-0 0, Mariah Clarin 0-2 2-2 2, Katie Lingle 2-10 4-6 8. Totals 16-55 19-23 56.
Halftime score -- USD 32-28. 3-point field goals -- USD 2-11 (Wilson 0-3, Yackley 0-3, Seekamp 2-5); SDSU 5-20 (Strop 1-6, Boever 1-3, Waytashek 1-4, Eide 1-3, Heiser 1-4). Total fouls -- USD 16; SDSU 17. Fouled out -- None. Rebounds -- USD 44 (Loeffler 9); SDSU 34 (Lingle 10). Assists -- USD 10 (Yackley 6); SDSU 12 (Eide 4). Blocks -- USD 4 (McCloud 2); SDSU 5 (Lingle 4). Steals -- USD 7 (Seekamp 5); SDSU 11 (Boever 7). Turnovers -- USD 16; SDSU 10. Officials -- Amy Bonner, Angie Enlund, Doug Knight. Attendance -- 6,153.