bY Travis Morgan
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.--South Dakota State forward Ashley Eide scored eight of her 10 points in the final eight minutes to lead the top-seeded Jacks past third-seeded South Dakota, 56-53, in the Summit League Tournament championship game at Sioux Falls Arena. SDSU earns the League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive year.
A championship game record 6,153 fans packed the Arena to watch two in-state rivals compete in a tightly contested contest from start to finish. No lead was greater than five in the second half. Eide gave the Jacks the lead for good with two free throws with 4:37 left and made it 56-53 with two more throws with 19.5 seconds left.
South Dakota called timeout with 7.1 seconds left and the Jacks fouled point guard Alexis Yackley with 5.8 seconds. Yackley missed the front end of a 1-and-1, rebounded her own miss, ran back to the wing and hoisted a 3-pointer that fell just off the mark. A USD tip try bounced away as the horn sounded.
South Dakota State (25-7) survived despite trailing by nine points in the first half and being outrebounded 44-34. Eleven steals - seven by Gabrielle Boever - helped cancel out the rebounding edge. Megan Waytashek led the Jacks with 11 points.
USD took a 32-28 lead into halftime behind 17 first-half points from Nicole Seekamp, who made her first four shots and 7 of 10 in the opening stanza. Seekamp opened the second half with a triple and led all scorers with 20. She was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after totaling 62 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists and 10 steals in three games.
Coyote guard Tempestt Wilson was also named to the five-woman, all-tournament team after scoring 10 points Tuesday and averaging 13 for the tournament. Polly Harrington chimed in with six points and eight rebounds.