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South Dakota St. vs. Stanford: Jackrabbits riding high after NCAA first round win, Cardinal expecting a tough matchup

Published on March 21, 2016


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No. 12 South Dakota State (27-6) vs. No. 4 Stanford (25-7)
Monday, March 21 at 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 (Bob Picozzi and Mary Murphy)
Audio: Stanford || South Dakota (More stations)

STANFORD, Calif. – After stunning the fifth-seeded Miami Hurricanes in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night, the No. 12 seed South Dakota State Jackrabbits are set for a battle against the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal. The Monday evening matchup features a strong mid-major team with die-hard traveling fans against a legacy program with over four times as many NCAA appearances as the Jackrabbits (30 vs. 7).

SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston refers to Stanford as “really one of the storied women’s basketball programs in the country.” Nevertheless, the Jackrabbits do not seem to be intimidated by Stanford’s history and the Cardinal are taking SDSU very seriously.

In an emotional first-round game that pitted Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer against former Stanford Star Jennifer Azzi, the head coach of the 13th-seeded University of San Francisco, the fourth-ranked team cruised to an 85-58 victory on Saturday. However, VanDerveer is not expecting an easy time versus SDSU.

“Our teams did some really nice things but I think we’re going to have to play better tomorrow,” she said during a Sunday press conference. “We played South Dakota State two years ago and they’re a very well-coached team. Their kids play disciplined basketball, they have a lot of weapons and you have to come out ready and know what you’re doing against them.”

The last time the two teams faced each other was in 2013, a November contest at the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Stanford won 80-60 and led 40-19 at halftime.

“We are a completely different team than we were two years ago,” said SDSU senior guard Gabby Boever. “We are a lot smaller, and they’re a lot different. Definitely looking forward to the opportunity to play again.”

Johnston keeps his team on their toes and ready to face ranked opponents with a tough non-conference schedule. This past season the Summit League tournament champions played hard-fought games against two top ten teams, Notre Dame and Maryland, as well as a contest against then-No. 16 DePaul. SDSU beat DePaul 88-79, a team that punched its ticked to the Sweet 16 yesterday with a win over Louisville on the Cardinals’ home floor.

“Each year we’ve really tried to play that level of competition (facing Notre Dame and Maryland in nonconference games),” said Johnston on Sunday during his team’s off-day presser. “That’s why this is such a rewarding process. It’s not just about winning yesterday (against Miami).”

Miami was ranked at No. 19 in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Coaches polls coming into the tournament. Given his team’s impressive performances against top 25 teams it is not surprising that Johnston also said “I do think we’re much better than a 12 seed.”

Miami’s coach and VanDerveer agreed with this assessment.

“We’ve played them before and we know how tough they are,” said VanDerveer. “We’re going to have to play really well. I think we understand their team and what they like to do and kind of the strengths of their team. Right now, they’ve already proved they’re not a 12, they’re a 5 (seed). So we’re playing a 4-5 game.”

She also provided a synopsis of SDSU’s strengths, a team known for shooting the three extremely well.

“They do give you that challenge of spreading the floor, they pass well, they execute well and play with a purpose. Just outstanding players that play within themselves and don’t try to do too much. We have to do some things to frustrate them and not let them do what they like to do.”

Stanford sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson agreed with her coach’s sentiments.

“Every team we face, we know we have to give our best because it is tournament time and everyone is giving their best. Obviously, South Dakota State is really excited about the big win, but seeding doesn’t mean anything at this point. It’s all going to come down to the preparation.”

Johnston gave an overview of his thoughts on what makes Stanford a dangerous matchup for his squad.

“They’re very good in what they do in X’s and O’s. But what makes them good is the exact same thing: they take great shots, they pass the ball incredibly well, they play together, stay in their system and are very good defensively.”

Probable Starters


  • Junior guard Kerri Young
  • Freshman guard Madison Guebert
  • Sophomore guard Macy Miller
  • Junior forward Clarissa Ober
  • Sophomore forward Ellie Thompson


  • Junior guard Briana Roberson
  • Junior guard Lili Thompson
  • Junior guard Karlie Samuelson
  • Sophomore forward Kaylee Johnson
  • Junior forward Erica McCall


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