Brookings, S.D. – South Dakota State used a strong second half to outlast the Gophers women’s basketball team 70-62 on Thursday in the third round of the WNIT.
The Jackrabbits (25-9), who shot just 24 percent from the field in the first half and trailed by one at halftime, outscored the Gophers 16-7 in the first 6½ minutes of the second half to take control.
After the Gophers pulled within three points with 6:21 left, the Jackrabbits made three three-pointers and were 10-for-10 from the free-throw line in the final six minutes to improve to 17-0 at home this season.
The announced crowd at Frost Arena was 3,320, a season high, and SDSU improved to 5-1 all-time against the Gophers.
The Jackrabbits will meet Indiana at home at 2 p.m. Sunday in the WNIT quarterfinals. Indiana edged Northwestern 66-65 on Thursday.
Steph Paluch scored 17 points and Tara Heiser scored 14 to lead the Jackrabbits
The Gophers were led by Amanda Zahui B., who had 26 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks, and Rachel Banham, who scored 25 points, all but two in the second half.
Banham had 16 points in the final five minutes, trying to rally her team.
Zahui B.’s double-double was her 18th of the season. Her point total of 26 tied a season high. She was 7-for-7 from the field in the opening half. Her 11 rebounds gave the 6-5 freshman center from Sweden 394 this season, breaking the Gophers and Big Ten single-season record by seven.
The Jackrabbits made seven of 14 three-point shots in the second half.
To be determined is the fate of Gophers coach Pam Borton, who has two years left on her contract. The Gophers finished the season 22-13, their best victory total since the 2004-05 season, but they haven’t advanced to the NCAA tournament since 2009, and their average announced attendance is a third of what it was 10 years ago.