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Jackrabbits Regain Swagger, Rout Butler in WNIT Opener

Two minutes.

That’s all South Dakota State trailed at home to Butler in their WNIT opener Thursday night, as the Jackrabbits rebounded from their first ever loss in the Summit League Tournament, resulting in SDSU missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time five years, with a 78-61 win over the Bulldogs of the Big East Conference.

After trailing 3-0 early, the Jackrabbits ran off 10 straight points, despite hitting just 4 of their first 16 shots.

The SDSU defense did a nice job on the Butler in the first 10 minutes, limiting the Bulldogs to five made baskets while forcing four turnovers to lead by seven.

The Jackrabbits ran that advantage to as many as 11 moments later on the strength of nine first half offensive rebounds which translated into 12 SDSU points.

But the Bulldogs used defense to spark a comeback with seven first half blocked shots, five from the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Liz Stratman.  Butler went on a 17-7 run to pull to within a point with three minutes to play in the first half.

But then Chynna Stevens took over.

The freshman threw in 11 first half points, a vast majority during a 9-2 run to push the Jacks lead back to eight with seconds left in the half.  Stevens and the rest of the Jacks bench outscored the Bulldogs 21-9 in the first half.

Butler had the ball with the intention of playing for the final shot in the first 20 minutes, but when they misfired with three seconds left, Steph Paluch grabbed the ball, dribbled to mid-court and threw in a 40-footer as time expired.  38-27 South Dakota State at the half, despite shooting just 36 percent.

In the first eight minutes of the second half, SDSU raised their shooting percentage, while Butler’s dropped.  The Jacks hitting five of their first 12, the Bulldogs just 2 of their first ten and all of the sudden the lead was 52-33.

Four SDSU players scored in double figures: Paluch with 14, Mariah Clarin with a double-double (14 points/12 rebounds), Stevens with 13, Megan Waytashek with 11 – all in the second half.

Butler got 17 from Taylor Schippers and a double-double from Stratman (15 points/13 rebounds), but the Bulldogs shot just 35 percent, and committed 19 turnovers.

The Jacks hit 10 3-pointers, finished plus-10 on the boards (46-36) and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.

The win was the 18th straight for South Dakota State (23-9) at home and their first win in the post season since an NCAA Tournament win over TCU in 2009.

South Dakota State will host Creighton in round two of the WNIT Sunday at 2:00pm.  The Blue Jays won the first meeting of the year between the two, 68-63, in November, in Omaha.

SOUTH DAKOTA GETS READY FOR STANFORD AT NCAA TOURNAMENT

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