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Jeff Kolpack, Published March 02 2013

Big first half propels Jackrabbits over North Dakota State in women's basketball

FARGO – Veteran dance instructor Victor Gelking showed with a halftime performance he still has the moves. So does the South Dakota State women’s basketball team.

The Jackrabbits, in a fashion so familiar in the last several years at the Bison Sports Arena, showed their talent and depth in another victory over NDSU. The 94-70 win Saturday night before 2,043 fans was the 16th win in the last 17 meetings.

The meaning in the night, however, came after the final buzzer.

It was the last home game for Bison 1,000-point scorers Katie Birkel and Dani DeGagne as well as backup guard Britney Gaines. NDSU guard Hannah Linz, a senior who left the team in January to deal with her Hodgkin’s lymphoma, returned to the Bison bench and was honored after the game in an emotional moment.

“There have been some downs, but having you guys there really means a lot,” she told the BSA crowd. “Thank you to my family. I couldn’t make it through without you. Thank you to my fiancé Adam. He’s been there for me these four years. He’s been my rock. Thanks everyone again, you’re awesome.”

Before that, Bison head coach Carolyn DeHoff paid tribute to Linz, calling her an inspiration for everybody.

“Don’t ever get up in the morning and think things are tough for you,” she said. “There’s the inspiration right there. You’re going to beat this.”

In addition, center Janae Burich, out all season with a knee injury, will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average and chose not to take a medical hardship.

“This group exemplified toughness,” DeHoff said. “They battled the second half, and that’s a reflection of the leadership on this team.”

It took just over midway in the first half before the Jacks established control. Leading 22-17 with nine minutes remaining, a 9-1 run that took just a minute and a half was the start.

A 3-point shot from the wing by guard Ashley Eide started another spurt, this one 10 straight points that made it 41-20.

SDSU scored in a variety of ways, getting good one-on-one looks underneath against the undersized Bison and open shots on the perimeter against an NDSU zone.

It was 54-27 at halftime, with five SDSU players having at least six points. Eide finished with 22 points to lead the Jacks, who improved to 22-7 and 14-2 in the Summit League.

“We’re really deep this year, one of the deepest teams we’ve had,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston. “I thought we were flat early but we found some players off the bench who gave us a spark.”

The Bison had one nice stretch in the second half behind guard Jamie Van Kirk, who sank four 3-point field goals to help pull the Bison within 69-57. But SDSU responded with nine straight.

DeGagne led NDSU with 22 points and Van Kirk added 19.

SDSU (22-7, 14-2 Summit): Strop 0-3 0-0 0, Dietel 1-3 4-4 6, Boever , Waytashek 4-6 5-5 15, Eide 9-17 2-3 22, Stuart 0-0 0-0 0, Heiser 3-5 2-2 8, Cornermann 0-2 0-0 0, Walters 2-4 0-0 5, Clarin 7-9 3-3 17, Lingle 5-9 3-5 13. Totals: 35-66 19-22 94.

NDSU (10-18, 6-10 Summit): Keena 2-4 1-2 5, Whittle 2-12 2-2 7, DeGagne 9-14 4-4 22, Birkel 2-12 3-4 9, Van Kirk 6-12 3-4 19, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Gaines 3-5 0-1 8. Totals: 24-59 13-17 70.

Halftime: SDSU 54, NDSU 27. Total fouls: SDSU 17, NDSU 17. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: SDSU 40 (Dietel 9); NDSU 30 (DeGagne 11). 3-point goals: SDSU 5-14 (Strop 0-1, Waytashek 2-3, Eide 2-3, Boever 0-1, Heiser 0-1, Walters 1-2); NDSU 9-22 (Whittle 1-5, Birkel 2-7, Van Kirk 4-7, Gaines 2-2). Assists: SDSU 23 (Waytashek 6); NDSU 14 (Birkel 5). Turnovers: SDSU 6 (Six with 6); NDSU 10 (Birkel 4). A-2,043.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia