It’s been a tough stretch against some really good teams with seven games in the past 15 days, but coach Katie Burrows is confident that good days are ahead for her Chattanooga Lady Mocs basketball team.
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits came to McKenzie Arena Tuesday night and defeated the Lady Mocs by a 71-54 in a game that could have been much more lopsided or much closer.
The Jackrabbits have a fine team and are now 5-3 with their second straight win. Chattanooga falls to 4-6 overall with its fourth straight defeat.
“The bottom line is that we have to get better in several areas, but in particular our 3-point defense,” Burrows said in her post-game comments after the visitors canned nine of 21 from long range.
“Overall, I thought we did a nice job of adjusting defensively and on the brighter side, we cut down on our turnovers and only had four in the second half. Of course, we had four in the first four minutes and you can’t do that against a team like that, but we felt like we could attack this team offensively.
“There were some bright spots, but you can’t dig yourself a hole like we did against a team like that and expect positive results. They were able to capitalize on our mental breakdowns, but I love these kids and they never quit. No matter the score, they constantly battle.
“This is still a really young team and we just need to be patient with them. When the light does finally come on, it will be pretty. Right now, we’re tired mentally and physically and having the next two days off will help. Final exams start tomorrow, but we need a break for a few days,” Burrows added.
Myah Selland had a pair of buckets around 3s from Macy Miller and Madison Guebert as the Jackrabbits bolted to a 10-0 lead in the first four minutes.
Selland bagged a 3 from the key at the buzzer as the difference was 20-11 when the first quarter ended.
Miller hit another 3 in the final minute as South Dakota State had its biggest lead of 39-24 at that point before Mya Long hit two free throws at the end to get the Lady Mocs within 39-26 at the break.
Morgan Hill scored on a drive along the wing while Lakelyn Bouldin scored five straight points as the Lady Mocs got within six at 39-33 two minutes into the third quarter. The difference was 45-38 when the junior from Van Buren County sank another 3 with 4:08 left in the third, but the Jackrabbits finished the quarter on a 10-2 run for a comfortable 55-40 advantage with one stanza remaining.
A 3 from Bria Dial with 3:48 to play got Chattanooga within 10 at 64-54, but the Jackrabbits scored the final seven points to win going away.
South Dakota State is ranked seventh in the latest Mid-Major poll. The Jackrabbits whipped fourth-ranked Green Bay by 77-47 in their last game and they only lost by six to Baylor in the game before that. They face top-ranked Drake in their next game on Saturday before taking on Oregon next Wednesday.
Coach Aaron Johnson, now 446-152 in his 19th year as his team’s head coach, knows that his team has some big games coming up, but he didn’t feel like they were looking ahead when they faced the Lady Mocs.
“I thought we played pretty well for the most part as we did a good job of moving the ball. And I thought we defended well as we made it tough for them to get good shots. These young ladies know how to win, so I thought we were pretty focused coming in,” he said following his post-game radio show.
“We showed pretty good balance on offense and I liked that, but overall, I was pleased with the way we played,” he added.
Miller scored 17 points to lead South Dakota State as they had four players in double figures.
Paiton Burckhard was next with a dozen while Selland and Guebert both finished with 11.
Bouldin was the leader for Chattanooga with 18 points, including four of six from long range. Long had 12 off the bench.
The Jackrabbits also had a 34-24 advantage in rebounding as Burckhard had seven and Tagyn Larson six. Eboni Williams had six to lead Chattanooga.
The Lady Mocs have a nine-day break before their next game at Northern Colorado on Dec. 13. The next home game is on Monday, Dec. 17 against Belmont.
SOUTH DAKOTA ST. 20 19 16 16 -- 71
CHATTANOOGA 11 15 14 14 -- 54
SOUTH DAKOTA ST. (71) – Larson 7, Selland 11, Guebert 11, Miller 17, Irwin 7, Palmer 2, Cascio Jensen, Theuninck 4, Burckhard 12.
CHATTANOOGA (54) – Whitaker 2, Dial 3, Hill 6, Melton, Bouldin 18, Lee, Burns 6, Long 12, Cornelius 2, Williams 5.
3-POINT GOALS: South Dakota St. 9-21 (Selland 1-3, Guebert 3-10, Miller 4-4, Irwin 1-1, Palmer 0-2, Cascio Jensen 0-1); Chattanooga 7-18 (Dial 1-2, Hill 0-1, Melton 0-1, Bouldin 4-6, Lee 0-1, Burns 0-1, Long 2-5, Williams 0-1).
REBOUNDS: South Dakota St. 34, Chattanooga 24.
FIELD GOALS: South Dakota State 30 of 50 for 60 percent; Chattanooga 18 of 54 for 33.3 percent.
ASSISTS: South Dakota State 25, Chattanooga 8.
TURNOVERS: South Dakota State 20, Chattanooga 16.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)