NCAA Women’s Tournament Preview: #6 South Dakota State vs. #2 Oregon
So far, South Dakota State's road to the program's first Sweet 16 of the Division I NCAA Tournament has been paved with victories over defensive-minded teams that they knew little about.
But as the Jackrabbits (28-6) get ready for their third game of the tourney, the focus now shifts to a team that plays SDSU's kind of offensive-oriented game and a team that the Jacks have some recent history with.
When sixth-seeded South Dakota State meets second-seeded Oregon in Portland, Friday (March 29), two of the top ten most accurate shooting teams in the nation will be on display. The Ducks hit 51 percent from the floor, the Jackrabbits 48 percent.
Both teams are among the top 12 in the NCAA in scoring (Oregon 86 points per game, South Dakota State 80).
The Ducks and Jackrabbits are both fundamentally sound as well. Oregon leads the country in assist-to-turnover ratio, while South Dakota State is eighth.
Four players average in double figures in scoring for the Ducks. They are led by guard Sabrina Ionescu, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, who averages 20 points and eight rebounds per game all while leading the NCAA in assists this season (286).
Oregon has some size inside with forwards Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard who each stand 6'4. Sabally averages 17 points and six rebounds per game; Hebard scores 16 a game and pulls down nine boards. She also is second in the nation in shooting percentage (68%).
Forward Erin Boley scores 13 points per game.
The Ducks (31-4), ranked seventh in the most recent AP Top 25, captured the Pac-12 regular season before losing to Stanford in the conference tournament championship game. That loss is Oregon's only defeat in their last eight games.
The Jackrabbits (28-6), Summit League regular season and tournament champs, have the longest current win streak in the nation at 18 games.
SDSU has four double-figure scorers as well. Senior guard Macy Miller, a two-time Summit League Player of the Year, averages 18 points per contest but has really upped her game over the last month of the season, scoring 23 per game, shooting 56 percent from the floor and 49 percent from three over her last nine.
Her backcourt mate and fellow senior Madison Guebert scores 14 points per game, but has topped 20 in two of SDSU's last three wins.
Forwards Myah Selland and Tagyn Larson score 13 and 11 points per game respectively. Selland has 33 points in SDSU's two NCAA Tournament wins.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the Jackrabbits and Ducks.
Oregon beat South Dakota State 87-79, December 12, 2018, in Brookings, but the Jackrabbits has the upper hand for most of that game.
SDSU shot 55 percent in the first half and led by five at the break, as Guebert was 5-of-7 from the three-point line, scoring 17 of her 21 points in the first 20 minutes. Selland added 13 of her 26 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
The Jacks pushed the lead to as many as nine two minutes into the second half, but the Ducks responded with 47 points in the final 12 minutes to win by eight, outshooting SDSU 53 to 36 percent in the second 20 minutes.
Ionescu scored 18 of her 26 points in the second half for Oregon. For the game, she dished off nine assists and had eight rebounds. Sabally led the Ducks with 27 points and seven boards.
Overall, Oregon outscored South Dakota State by ten in the paint. Ten Duck offensive rebounds led to a ten-point advantage in second-chance points, while Oregon converted 14 Jackrabbit miscues into a seven-point edge in points off of turnovers.
The rematch tips off at 10:00 PM Central, Friday in Portland, Oregon. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
The winner plays the (1) Mississippi State - (5) Arizona State winner, Sunday (March 31) in the Elite Eight.
South Dakota State won two games in Syracuse to advance to the Sweet 16., starting with a 76-65 victory over 12th-seeded Quinnipiac, last Saturday (March 23).
Miller had 28 points and 11 rebounds as the Jackrabbits shot 52 percent in the first half against the number-two defense in all of Division I.
Selland added 16 points and nine rebounds.
Monday (March 25), State knocked off third-seeded Syracuse, on the Orange's home floor, 75-64, in a game full of runs.
Syracuse used a 10-3 spurt to lead by as many as 12 in the first half, but the Jackrabbits used a 12-2 run to pull to within two at intermission.
The SDSU defense ruled the third quarter as the Jacks outscored the Orange 17-9 in the period to lead by six going into the fourth.
Syracuse used a pressing defense and swarming zone half-court attack to force SDSU turnovers the start the fourth. Ten straight Orange points gave the home team a four-point lead with 7:26 to play.
The Syracuse lead was three points with 4:53 left when the Jackrabbits got hot, scoring 16 of the game's last 18 points to advance to the Sweet 16. Guebert had eight of SDSU's points during that stretch, while the Orange offense made just one of their final 11 shot attempts.
I talked with Jackrabbits head coach Aaron Johnston about the Quinnipiac and Syracuse wins and the match-up with Oregon: