BROOKINGS – The South Dakota State seniors made sure their season didn’t end on Thursday night at Frost Arena.
Kerri Young and Ena Viso netted career highs in points while Clarissa Ober collected her seventh double-double of the season as the Jackrabbits held off Northern Illinois, 94-84, for a first-round WNIT win.
Young finished with 28 points – 19 of which came in the first half on 7-of-8 shooting, which included a 5-of-5 performance from beyond the arc – while Viso came off the bench to add a pair of 3-pointers and two free throws for eight points.
Ober contributed 17 points, to go along with 20 rebounds – the second most in school history – and six of the Jacks’ seven blocks.
“Especially at this time of the season – you lose a game and you’re done,” Young said about the seniors’ expected contributions coming into the game. “Being a Jackrabbit is something special and we take that to heart and (we’re) trying to make every game count – just trying to leave everything out there on the floor.”
“We’re not done with this team,” she said. “I don’t want to be done playing with Kerri – I’ve been on a ride with her for four years, so why not go all the way?”
The underclassmen also played a major role as Madison Guibert chipped in with 15 points and four assists; Ellie Thompson also posted a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards as SDSU held a 57-45 edge on the glass; and Alexis Anderson dished out eight of the Jacks’ 22 assists.
SDSU, 23-8 on the season, plays host to Colorado – a 66-52 winner over UNLV – at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Frost.
Even though 178 points were put up between the two teams, it was two defensive stops inside of 5 minutes to play that clinched the game for the Jackrabbits.
After leading 45-42 at halftime, SDSU pushed its advantage to 13 points at two different times in the second half – the first following an old-fashioned three-point play by Ober that made it 66-53 with 2:29 to play in the third; and the second after Young’s free throw completed another three-point play that gave the Jacks an 84-71 edge with 6:22 left in the game.
Mikayla Voigt sandwiched a pair of jump shots – the second a 3 – around a basket by Kelly Smith in the paint to pull Northern Illinois back to within six at 84-78 with 5:04 on the clock.
Ober was fouled on an offensive-rebound putback and converted both free throws to push the lead back to eight at the 4:35 mark; and then, the Jacks’ sprung a half-court trap on UNI and Guebert tied up Voigt to force a jump ball, with the possession arrow favoring SDSU.
After the home team came up empty on its offensive end, Ober blocked a shot by Kelly Smith and came up with the rebound. Although she was stripped of the ball, the 6-2 lefty came right back with another block – this time of a Voigt shot – as the ball went out-of-bounds.
The Huskies inbounded and Ober picked off a pass by Smith, which led to a Guebert 3-pointer in transition – and the Jackrabbit lead went back to double digits at 89-78 with 3:27 left.
Courtney Woods knocked down a 3-pointer, but Young scored in the lane, and then, Thompson went 1-of-2 from the foul line to make it 92-81 with 47 seconds left.
Woods hit another 3 before Viso provided for the final margin with her two free throws.
Woods and Smith both had double-doubles of 19 points as Woods grabbed 11 rebounds and Smith 10 as the Huskies ended their season with a 21-12 mark. Ally Lehman finished with 16 points and Voigt had 15.
“It was just a great win for us against a good team – one thing about the WNIT is that everybody is just so balanced,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston. “You’re not going to have an easy game; they’re all going to be a challenge; they’re all going to be full games and you’re not just going to run away from anybody and I thought we did a great job against a team that’s had a great year.
“I thought our team played well – offensively, we were really good and Kerri was excellent in the first half until we got everybody going in the right direction. The second half, I think we had a little more balance offensively, and defensively, we were just good enough to slow them down a little bit; they play at such a fast pace, it’s hard to really stop them – I thought we disrupted them some and did a nice job to maintain a lead throughout the game.”
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 94, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 84
Northern Illinois (21-12)
Cassidy Glenn 4-8 0-0 9, Kelly Smith 9-19 1-3 19, Courtney Woods 7-19 0-0 19, Mikayla Voigt 5-11 2-2 15, Ally Lehman 6-20 4-4 16, Janae Poisson 1-5 0-0 3, Renee Sladek 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 33-83 8-11 84.
South Dakota State (23-8)
Clarissa Ober 7-16 3-3 17, Ellie Thompson 6-16 1-2 14, Alexis Alexander 1-6 2-2 4, Kerri Young 11-21 1-1 28, Madison Guebert 5-15 1-2 15, Ena Viso 2-3 2-2 8, Sydney Palmer 1-4 0-0 2, Sydney Tracy 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 35-86 10-12 94.
UNI 20 22 20 22 – 84
SDSU 22 23 26 23 – 94
3-point goals – UNI 10-25 (Glenn 1-4, Smith 0-1, Woods 5-12, Voigt 3-5, Poisson 1-3); SDSU 14-31 (Ober 0-2, Thompson 1-4, Alexander 0-2, Young 5-6, Guebert 4-10, Viso 2-2, Palmer 0-1, Tracy 2-4). Rebounds – UNI 45 (Woods 11, Smith 10); SDSU 57 (Ober 20, Thompson 11). Assists – UNI 12 (Lehman 5); SDSU 22 (Alexander 8). Steals – UNI 7 (Voigt 2, Lehman 2); SDSU 8 (Ober 2, Alexander 2, Young 2). Blocks – UNI 7 (Glenn 2, Smith 2, Voigt 2); SDSU 7 (Ober 6). Turnovers – UNI 8; SDSU 10. Total fouls – UNI 10; SDSU 9. Fouled out – None. A – 2,610