BROOKINGS- South Dakota State women's basketball went down to the wire against Central Michigan but came up short, 79-74, on Saturday afternoon at Frost Arena.
The Jackrabbits fell to 7-5 on the season, while Central Michigan improved to 5-3.
For the second consecutive game, four Jackrabbits reached double figures led by Tagyn Larson, tying her season high of 15 points. Sydney Stapleton turned in 13 points, while Lindsey Theuninck and Kallie Theisen each scored 12.
The pair of Tylee Irwin and Paiton Burckhard led the defensive efforts for State with six rebounds apiece. Rylie Cascio Jensen dished out a team-high six assists, five of which came in the first quarter. Cascio Jensen added five rebounds, two steals and a block, while Irwin added a team-best three steals.
Central Michigan was led by Micaela Kelly as she went 12-of-18 from the field, including 7-of-8 from beyond the arc, for a total of 38 points. Molly Davis added 20 points and 7 assists for the Chippewas. As a team, CMU shot 50.9 percent from the field and 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from long distance.
"It was a good win for Central Michigan," head coach Aaron Johnston said. "They played well, and they hit shots. We just didn't do a good job on Kelly and Davis. They are both really good players and we knew that coming in. They were just a little too much for us today. Our defense wasn't as sharp as it needs to be, but they were exceptional. They did a nice job of making shots when they needed to and creating shots when they needed to."
SDSU outrebounded the Chippewas, 34-28, converting 14 offensive boards into 18 second-chance points in a contest that saw 13 lead changes and four ties.
South Dakota State held a 9-8 advantage four minutes into the game when a 10-2 run, which included six points from Theisen, extended the Jacks' lead to nine points. The Chippewas fought back to come within four of the Jackrabbits at the end of the first.
The second quarter alone saw seven lead changes and two ties as CMU outscored the Jacks 25-15 on the frame to lead 42-36 at halftime. Central Michigan's Micaela Kelly put up 25 first-half points.
The Jackrabbits gained momentum in the second half, going on a 17-5 run out of the locker room as back-to-back Stapleton 3-pointers gave State the lead at 53-51. The advantage wouldn't last as the Chippewas outscored the Jacks 5-2 in the final three minutes of the quarter to lead by two headed into the final 10 minutes of play.
The teams went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter as a 3-pointer by Theuninck gave the Jacks a 69-68 advantage with 2:23 to play. A trio of late turnovers set State back as Central Michigan was able to finish down the stretch.
"We just never were as sharp, maybe on both sides of the ball, when we needed to," Johnston said. "Some of our stats look really good. Some of our stats don't tell the whole picture. We had some really costly turnovers late, so we'll have to look at that and do a better job as coaches of finding ways to get them comfortable and in better positions to score down the stretch. It was a tough game. I felt like we had a chance to win. We just didn't quite get it done. We'll work on it and move forward."
South Dakota State is 1-2 all-time against Central Michigan.
Sydney Stapleton and Tagyn Larson have reached double figures in three of the last four contests.
Kallie Theisen scored a career-best 12 points.
Micaela Kelly (38 points) scored more points against the Jackrabbits than any opposing player in the Division I era.
South Dakota State shot a season best 50 percent (8-of-16) from beyond the arc.
South Dakota State concludes a three-game home stand as it hosts Marquette on Tuesday at 7 p.m