March 10, 2009
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Senior Jessica Pike scored 22 points, junior Hanna Reising scored 18, and junior Melissa Jeltema turned in a 12-point, eight-rebound performance, but the Oakland University women’s basketball team (26-6) was unable to overcome the clutch second-half shooting of the No. 14 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (31-2), as OU fell 79-69 in the championship game of the Summit League tournament on Tuesday.
“I give all the credit in the world to South Dakota State,” said head coach Beckie Francis. “In the first four minutes of the second half they really started to believe that they were as good as they actually are and they hit their shots.”
Oakland controlled the pace in the opening minutes of play, as Pike scored 20 of her 22 points in the first half. Behind the tandem of Pike and Reising, who scored 12 first-half points, the Golden Grizzlies shot 46.9 percent from the floor; while defensively slowing down the Jackrabbits, who shot just 31.8 percent from the floor.
The Jacks made the most of their trips to the charity stripe, converting on 12-of-14 free-throws in the opening half, while OU converted on four of its six opportunities. The Golden Grizzlies carried a 10-point (39-29) lead into the intermission.
South Dakota State outscored the Golden Grizzlies 11-4 over the first four minutes of the second half, and narrowed the gap to three (43-40) at the 16:00 mark. Reising hit a jumper with 14:35 remaining to push the OU lead to five, but SDSU’s Kristin Rotert hit a long 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to cut the Oakland lead to two (45-43).
After a missed jumper by the Golden Grizzlies on the following possession, SDSU once again attacked from long range, and a Stacie Oistad 3-pointer gave the Jacks their first lead (46-45) since the 19:03 mark of the first half.
Reising responded for OU, hitting a 3-pointer on the next possession to give the Golden Grizzlies the lead with 13:30 left, but OU went cold from the field over the next three minutes and the Jacks reclaimed the lead and pushed ahead by six (55-49) with 10:35 remaining.
Oakland narrowed the gap to two (60-58) after April Kidd converted a pair of free throws, but SDSU used an 11-0 run to push its lead to 13 (71-58) with 3:26 remaining in the contest. OU cut the deficit to single digits in the final minute of the game but the Jacks converted every free throw over the last minute to seal their win and the Summit League championship, and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that comes with the league title.
The Golden Grizzlies and Jacks were virtually even from the floor, with SDSU holding a slight 44.7 to 41.9 percent advantage for the game. SDSU held a 39-30 rebounding advantage, but the Jacks made the most of 32 free-throw opportunities, converting on 27, compared to OU’s 10-for-13 performance from the charity stripe.
Senior April Kidd led OU with four steals, scoring nine points with three boards. SDSU’s Jennifer Warkenthien led all players with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
The Golden Grizzlies wait for selection Monday, March 16, and the announcement of the NCAA tournament field. The Golden Grizzlies are considered a longshot candidate to make the field of 64 teams. However, if Oakland is not selected for the NCAA tournament, OU is assured the Summit League’s automatic bid for the Women’s NIT, by virtue of being the highest-placing team in the league without receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney. The Women’s NIT field will be announced Monday, March 16, following the NCAA Committee’s notifications.