Sole possession of first place in the Summit League is withing reach for the South Dakota State women's basketball team this week - if they can take care of business at home.

The Jackrabbits (16-5/7-2) begin the week a half-game behind South Dakota in the standings, with a match-up against the Coyotes on the horizon Saturday (February 4) at Frost Arena.

Up first is a rematch with North Dakota State, tonight (February 2) in Brookings.

The Bison are struggling. They've dropped five straight games and have failed to shoot at least 40 percent in four of those losses.

Taylor Thunstedt, one of the top scorers in the Summit League, has been getting a lot of attention from defenses lately and her shooting percentages are down. She's been under 40 percent from the field in the Bison's last four games.

But SDSU knows full well what Thunstedt is capable of. She scored 21 points against the Jackrabbits in December in Fargo, and scored 28 in a game against them last season.

In that December meeting, NDSU shot 61 percent in the first quarter and led by eight after ten minutes. But the SDSU defense made some adjustments and held the Bison to just 35 percent shooting over the final three quarters to win 69-66, rallying from a six-point deficit in the final 8:30.

Tipoff is 7:00 PM in Brookings.

A Jackrabbit win tonight sets up a winner-take-first match-up with South Dakota, Saturday Afternoon.

The Coyotes (19-4/8-2) Moved into sloe possession of first place in the Summit League with a 53-44 win at Denver last night (February 1).

USD has won six-of-seven and is third in the conference in scoring, second in points allowed. Sophomore Allison Arens is second in the Summit in scoring, third in assists.

SDSU sophomore Madison Guebert is third in the league in scoring.

The Coyotes won the first meeting, 65-62. The Jackrabbits controlled the tempo of the game in the first half, out shooting USD 48 to 29 percent, en route to an 11-point lead at intermission.

The South Dakota defense took control in the third quarter, limiting SDSU to just nine points, as USD led by a bucket after three.

That lead grew to six moments later, but the Jackrabbits trimmed that advantage to just one in the final two minutes. The Coyotes would never give up the lead, as Allison Arens connected on four straight free throws in the final seconds to seal the victory.

Tipoff is 2:00 PM in Brookings.

The Jackrabbits played just once last week, an 83-82 loss at Omaha, Saturday (January 28).

SDSU struggled to find its shooting touch in the first half, going just 1-of-6 from behind the three-point arc, 33 percent from the floor. Meanwhile, the Mavericks were red hot from long range. Five different players hit three's on the first half for UNO, who knocked down eight triples in the first 20 minutes to lead by nine at intermission.

The Jackrabbits responded with a big third quarter from Guebert and Ellie Thompson, who combined for 17 points in that ten-minute stretch.

Down nine in the fourth, SDSU ran off 13 straight points and grabbed a four-point lead with 2:17 to play.

Clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute, the Jacks missed a pair of crucial free throws, the second miss giving UNO a chance to rush down the floor for what turned out to game winning three-pointer at the buzzer for Marissa Preston. She had five of the Mavericks 16 three-pointers in the game.

I talked with Jackrabbits Coach Aaron Johnston about last week's loss and this week's match-ups with North Dakota State and South Dakota: