NCAA TOURNAMENT: Fourth Quarter Struggle Stops SDSU In Loss To Syracuse

Shorthanded Jackrabbits Lose 72-55 & Finishe Season 21-4
Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, TX (Dakota News Now) - The South Dakota State women’s basketball team never let injury issues that, among other things, cost them Summit League Player of the Year Myah Selland’s services, become an excuse.

Yet it was hard to imagine it didn’t factor during a fourth quarter of their first round NCAA Tournament game with Syracuse in which, after trailing 50-48 going into the period, SDSU seemed to run out of gas.

The Jacks were outscored 22-7, falling to Syracuse 72-55 to finish their season 21-4.

Due to broadcast restrictions we can not post highlights of the game. Click on the video viewer to hear from SDSU’s Paiton Burckhard and head coach Aaron Johnston.

SDSU’s Game Recap is Below:

No. 9 seed South Dakota State women’s basketball’s season came to an end with a 72-55 loss to No. 8 seed Syracuse Sunday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Jackrabbits, who finished the season 21-4, shot 33.3 percent from the field, outrebounded Syracuse 46-38 and went 11-of-14 at the free throw line.

Paiton Burckhard scored 15 of her team-high 17 points in the second half. Tori Nelson finished with 11 points and five rebounds while Haley Greer scored nine points and brought down five rebounds. Lindsey Theuninck added five points, six rebounds and two assists and Kallie Theisen finished with five points and 10 rebounds. Tylee Irwin posted eight rebounds and five assists.

“Their length I think caused us some problems,” head coach Aaron Johnston said. “Their pressure and changing defenses was just enough I think to get us rattled, but I still think defensively, we played well. We made it hard for them. They missed some shots I’m sure they feel like they could’ve capitalized on, but I still feel like our defense was there, created a presence and rebounded well enough to win. They just had a better fourth quarter. Our fourth quarter, we just didn’t generate enough offense. They made some 3s, I think we had a couple of missed assignments and they capitalized on them. In games like this, it really comes down to who has that best stretch probably late the game and we’ve been on both sides of that and today, we were on the losing side of it. I thought we played hard enough to win.”

After the Jacks started the game 0-for-5 from the field and Syracuse scored eight consecutive points, the Jacks scored on four of its next five possessions to cut the Orange lead to 11-10 with five minutes to play in the first. Down 16-12 at the 2:27 mark, Vlastuin scored the next five Jackrabbit points to make it a one possession game (19-17). Both teams combined to miss seven field goals in the final 1:27 with Syracuse leading 21-17 at the end of the quarter.

SDSU and Syracuse traded 3-point misses and turnovers before Nelson scored the first points of the second quarter on a jumper with 8:17 remaining in the first half. Nelson gave State its first lead on a four-point play to make it 25-23 at the 7:12 mark and the Jacks led for the next 3:04. The Orange closed the half on a 12-3 run to take a 37-31 lead at the break.

Burckhard scored seven of the first nine Jackrabbit points of the third quarter, including seven unanswered, to overcome a cold start for the SDSU offense and trim the Orange lead to 43-42 at the 4:45 mark. Both teams struggled from the field in the final four minutes as layups from Theuninck and Greer and a Burckhard jumper would be all the scoring for SDSU, but the Jacks trailed by just two (50-48) after three quarters of play.

Down by just two at the start of the final frame, the Jacks couldn’t connect on two 3-pointers as Syracuse stretched its lead to 56-48 on a pair of threes inside the eight minute mark. After the Jacks made it a four-point game, 12 consecutive points by the Orange gave Syracuse its largest lead of the half at 16 with two minutes to play. Greer broke the run with a layup at the 1:35 mark, but the deficit was too large to overcome as the Jacks fell 72-55.

“I’m proud of our team, I really am,” Johnston said. “These games late in the year, they don’t change anything that’s happened in November, December, January, February. They’re not a reflection of the season. So our team had a fantastic season. I’m really proud of them, but this was a difficult one. We feel like we could have played a little better, but that’s the way it goes.”

Game notes

  • South Dakota State dropped to 4-10 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 1-1 against Syracuse
  • Theisen’s 10 rebounds are a season high
  • Irwin’s eight rebounds are a season high
  • Madysen Vlastuin ended the season with a 3-pointer in six consecutive games and one in 16 in the last 18 games

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