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Dave Eggen|Inertia
Stefanie Mauk of IPFW scoops a shot past the defense of South Dakota State’s Tara Heiser in the second half of the semifinal game Monday.

Jackrabbits jump all over Mastodons

– For the second straight day at the Summit League women’s basketball tournament, IPFW faced adversity in its efforts to advance and play another day. On Monday, that adversity proved to be too much.

A day removed from a double-overtime victory over Western Illinois, the fourth-seeded Mastodons were routed 86-59 by top-seeded South Dakota State in the tournament semifinals in front of 5,245 fans at Sioux Falls Arena.

IPFW made only 32 percent of its field goals and was outrebounded 37-22.

It’s the fourth straight conference tournament the Mastodons have lost to the Jackrabbits, who have gone on to win the title in each of those four years and have won 14 consecutive tournament games in Sioux Falls, which is 45 miles from the South Dakota State campus.

“When you take a team as talented as South Dakota State and put them in this kind of environment, it is very, very difficult,” IPFW coach Chris Paul said, referencing the large crowd on hand to cheer SDSU.

For a young team – IPFW (13-17) is the only one in the Summit League that does not start a senior – Paul said SDSU is the model for what he’s trying to build with his program in Fort Wayne.

“South Dakota State plays with a swagger, they play with a confidence, with a belief that they’re going to win every time they’re on the floor,” Paul said. “You can just see it every time they bring someone off the bench and bring them on the floor, it doesn’t look like you skip a beat.”

Not only did the Jackrabbits (24-7) look the part, they played it too. SDSU shot 67 percent in the first half and were 18 of 20 on two-point shots, holding a 32-10 advantage on points in the paint at halftime, where IPFW trailed 46-29. The Mastodons had more turnovers (10) than field goals (nine) in the first half.

“Defensively, we didn’t get after it.” said Mastodons guard Erin Murphy, who led IPFW with 18 points. “We knew they were going to be bigger and stronger than us, and we just weren’t as physical as they were with us.”

Conference player of the year Amanda Hyde scored 15 points in the loss. SDSU had five players in double figures, led by 16 points from senior Ashley Eide.

Paul maintains the future is bright for his squad, with what he calls one of the best recruiting classes in program history and the entire team returning.

“We will have an awfully good basketball team next year,” he said. “I hope that at some point next year we play them again because I really want to be the team that beats them on this floor.”

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