By Wayne Otto
College Basketball Columnist
College Sports Journal
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The South Dakota State University Lady Jackrabbits were just added to the dance card.
The dance card known as March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament, women’s style.
The Lady Jacks defeated the University of South Dakota Lady Coyotes 56-53 in the Summit League tournament championship game to claim the invite in front of a tournament record crowd of 6,153.
SDSU won their fifth straight Summit League championship since becoming eligible for a conference championship after transitioning from NCAA Division II status. SDSU is now a dominate 15-0 in the Summit League tournament.
The South Dakota Coyotes, who were a Summit League newcomer this year after joining the league last season but ineligible for post season play, gave a scare to the top seeded Jacks.
USD built a nine point advantage on a free throw by Lisa Loeffler at the 4:19 mark in the first half, 28-19.
Two free throws by the Jacks’ Leah Dietel, cut the lead to four just before the half, 32-28.
Tournament MVP Nicole Seekamp paced the Coyotes scoring 17 of her game high 20 points in the first half, but needed more help as the Coyotes could muter only 21 second half points.
The Coyotes held the lead until Katie Lingle scored a layup to put the Jacks ahead 47-46 with 6:32 remaining.
Tempestt Wilson answered right back with a 12 foot jump shot.
The Jacks took the lead for good on two free throws by Ashley Eide to make the score 52-50 at the 4:37 mark.
A missed three-point attempt by Alexis Yackley with two seconds left sealed the victory and the NCAA bid for the Jacks.
The Coyotes held the Jacks to 29% shooting and out rebounded the Jacks 44-34, but committed 16 turnovers and only shot 37%.
SDSU has overcome a halftime deficit in three of their five titles. The Jacks’ 15-game tournament winning streak is the longest in Summit League history.
Joining Seekamp on the All Tournament team was Gabby Boever, SDSU; Ashley Eide, SDSU; Kerah Nelson, IUPUI; and Tempestt Wilson, USD.
Three of the last four Summit League Women’s Basketball Championship games have been decided by four points or less.
All five of South Dakota State’s titles have been decided by ten points or less.
The Jacks will know their NCAA tournament pairings on selection Monday.