The Jackrabbits claimed their 10th Summit League Tournament Championship on Tuesday at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls. SDSU defeated Omaha 93-51 to claim the crown.
SDSU led 13-8 at the first media break after six fastbreak points. Out of the media timeout, Omaha failed to score. The Jacks led 21-8 heading into the second quarter. Six different Jackrabbits scored in the first, with Haleigh Timmer’s 10 points leading the way.
Elena Pilakouta worked the paint to break Omaha’s scoring doubt just under the eight minute mark in the second frame, but the Mavericks would only add eight more to their total, with the Jacks earning the 44-16 lead at the half. The second half was a steamroll for SDSU, and the depth was too much for Omaha to handle.
Haleigh Timmer, all-tournament team member and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, tallied 18 points for SDSU. Paige Meyer added 16, while Paiton Burckhard followed with 14. Myah Selland tacked on 11 points, and Madison Mathiowetz scored nine. All but two Jackrabbits who played were able to drain a bucket.
Myah Selland and Paige Meyer made the all-tournament team, along with Kansas City’s Manna Mensah and Omaha’s Elena Pilakouta.
South Dakota State will await their NCAA Tournament seed and location, to be revealed on the selection show on Sunday.
Omaha was led by Katie Keitges’ 11 points. Polina Nikulochkina nailed eight points, while Elena Pilakouta and Aaliyah Stanley tallied six points apiece.
Elena Pilakouta was emotional and reflective about her time at Omaha.
“Definitely this last season will be the one to remember. All five years have been special to me and obviously I grew as a player and a person. I learned a lot about myself on and off the court, and I think I’m going to take that with me, and definitely my teammates and my coaches will be people that will be in my life forever.”
Though Pilakouta and Akili Felici are leaving big shoes to fill, Coach Carrie Banks, who coached in her second championship game in the last three seasons, is optimistic about the future.
“I think it’s really encouraging for our group to get here and get to this stage and get that experience. Now we know what it takes.”
“I’m excited for the future. You know, these kids, they have heart, they have fight, and you know, their goal is to win a championship every single year.”
Omaha finished the season 8-10 in the conference, and 15-17 overall.