Jackrabbit men’s and women’s basketball teams advance to NCAA Tournament!

March 13, 2024

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Luke Appel and Zeke Mayo each scored 16 points and South Dakota State defeated Denver 76-68 on Tuesday night to win the Summit League Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time.

The Jackrabbits built a 22-5 lead within the first 10 minutes. South Dakota State led 37-23 at halftime and pushed it to 23 with eight minutes left in regulation. Jaxon Brenchley and Pedro Lopez Sanvicente then hit 3-pointers for Denver and the Pioneers went on a 15-2 run to make it 65-53 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

Brenchley hit a 3-pointer, added one free throw on the next possession, then hit another 3 to get Denver within 67-62 with a minute left. The Jackrabbits made 7 of 8 free throws to win it.

William Kyle III had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Jackrabbits (22-12) and Matt Mims and Kalen Garry each scored 11.

Brenchley finished with 20 points and Tommy Bruner, the nation’s leading scorer at 24.2 points per game, had 17 for Denver (17-17). Bruner made only 1 of 9 3-pointers and was 7 for 21 overall. DeAndre Craig scored 12.

The Jackrabbits were 11 of 17 to start the game. Mayo made half the Jackrabbits’ six 3s and scored 10 before the break. South Dakota State finished 9 of 23 from 3-point distance and Denver made 11 of 36.

South Dakota State won the Summit League championship for the seventh time in eight title-game appearances since 2012.

Denver has never played in the NCAA Tournament and was playing in a conference tournament championship game for just the second time.

In the women’s championship game, Paige Meyer had 18 points, Tori Nelson scored seven of her nine during a 14-0 fourth-quarter run and South Dakota State earned its 12th trip to the NCAA Tournament with a 67-54 win over North Dakota State in the Summit League Tournament championship on Tuesday.

The Jackrabbits (27-5) defended their title when they forced the second-seeded Bison (21-11) into six-straight misses while they turned a one-point lead with six minutes to go into a 61-46 lead with 1:43 left.

Meyer start the run with a layup, Mesa Byom had a three-point play and then Nelson scored seven straight, sandwiching a 3-pointer around two layups. Meyer capped it with two free throws.

“We made some shots,” long-time South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnson said. “How about Tori Nelson, senior? My heart goes out to her, she didn’t finish (sprained ankle), hopefully we get some good news there. But a big 3, a couple big drives to the basket. She really played like you want to see a senior play.”

The Jackrabbits have won 20 straight since back-to-back losses to ranked Gonzaga and Creighton.

Brooklyn Meyer had 15 points and three blocks for South Dakota State, which made its first NCAA berth in 2008-09, its first season of eligibility. Madison Mathiowetz added 12 points and Byom had 11 with nine rebounds.

Heaven Hamling had 16 points for North Dakota State, in its first-ever title game. and Elle Evans had 11.

South Dakota State outscored North Dakota State by one point in each of the first three quarters to lead 42-39 entering the fourth quarter. The Jackrabbits never led by more than five until Brooklyn Meyer’s three-point play made it 47-41. But Hamling made two free throws and her 3 with 6:30 to go cut the deficit to 47-46.