SIOUX FALLS – Five South Dakota State players scored in double figures and the Jackrabbits turned in their top shooting performance of the season, cruising past Fort Wayne, 86-59, in semifinal action Monday afternoon at the Summit League Basketball Championship.
Top-seeded SDSU will play for an unprecedented fifth consecutive Summit League tournament title at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sioux Falls Arena against the winner of Monday’s other semifinal between second-seeded IUPUI and third-seeded South Dakota. The Jackrabbits improved to 24-7 overall, while Fort Wayne ended its season with a 13-17 record.
The Jackrabbits shredded the Fort Wayne defense in the first half to the tune of 67.9 percent (19-of-28) shooting from the field. With drives to the basket and crisp interior passing SDSU made 18 of its 20 field goal attempts inside the three-point arc in the first 20 minutes.
SDSU never trailed, gaining an 18-7 lead less than eight minutes into the game with a 10-0 run that included a pair of baskets by reserve Tara Heiser. The Jackrabbits put together another 9-0 spurt to go up 29-12 with 9 minutes, 23 seconds to play.
The fourth-seeded Mastodons trimmed the deficit to nine points at 33-24, but SDSU ended the half on a 13-5 run to take a 46-29 lead into intermission.
Fort Wayne scored the first four points of the second half of the free throw line, but Summit League Player of the Year Amanda Hyde picked up her third and fourth personal fouls less than three minutes into the stanza. The Jackrabbits then scored the next six points to go back up by 19 points.
The Mastodons would get no closer as SDSU led by as many as 30 in the closing minutes.
The Jackrabbits finished the game 33-of-57 from the field, 57.9 percent, but were only 2-of-12 from three-point range. SDSU converted 18-of-20 free throw attempts, 90 percent, and held a 37-22 rebounding advantage.
Ashley Eide paced the Jackrabbits with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. Gabrielle Boever was the only other starter in double figures, tallying 10 points to go along with four assists and four steals. Off the bench, Megan Stuart posted a season-high 11 points in only six minutes of action, while Heiser and Katie Lingle each tallied 10 points. Leah Dietel contributed eight points and a game-high seven rebounds.
Erin Murphy led Fort Wayne with 18 points, while Hyde finished with 15. Haley Seibert, who scored 33 points in the Mastodons’ double-overtime win over Western Illinois on Sunday, was held to three points.
The Mastodons ended the afternoon 16-of-49 from the field, 32.7 percent, including 5-for-22 from three-point range. Fort Wayne made 22-of-24 free throw attempts for 91.7 percent.
NOTES: SDSU leads the all-time series 20-1 and has won the last eight meetings … the Jackrabbits have knocked Fort Wayne out of the Summit League Basketball Championship each of the last four years … SDSU is 14-0 all-time in Summit League tournament games – all of which have been played at the Sioux Falls Arena … SDSU held a 43-15 advantage in bench points and outscored the Mastodons 58-16 in the paint … Dietel set a season high with five assists … eight different Jackrabbit players scored at least eight points … 10 different SDSU players recorded a rebound and an assist