CANCÚN, MEXICO - South Dakota State women's basketball dropped a heartbreaker against Florida Gulf Coast in the final game of the Cancun Challenge on Saturday, as the Jacks fell 71-70 in the final seconds to snap a five-game winning streak.
SDSU fell to 5-3 and went 2-1 in the Cancun Challenge, while FGCU improved to 8-1 and finished the Cancun Challenge 3-0.
"In some ways, we played well enough to win, both teams certainly did," said head coach Aaron Johnston. "The last 30 seconds are obviously hard to swallow. We just had chances to win and finish the game."
Myah Selland turned in another impressive performance with 20 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Paiton Burckhard recorded 17 points and tied her career-best of nine rebounds. Tori Nelson posted 12 points and pulled down five boards.
The Jackrabbits outrebounded its opponent for the fifth straight game as it held a 34-26 advantage on the boards. FGCU was led by Keri Jewett-Giles with 24 points.
The Eagles held an 8-7 advantage midway through the first quarter, but a Burckhard layup and a 3-pointer by Nelson set the Jackrabbits ahead, 12-8. State held onto its lead through the remainder of the quarter, but a trio of FGCU free throws cut the Jacks' advantage to 16-15.
A 9-0 run set the Eagles ahead 27-22 with 5:17 remaining in the first half. The score reached a tie twice, but Paiton Burckhard went on a fastbreak, scoring at the last second to put the Jacks ahead 35-33 at halftime.
SDSU outscored Florida Gulf Coast 21-16 in the third quarter. A late 6-0 run gave the Jacks its largest lead of seven points entering the final frame. State led 68-63 when an FGCU 3-pointer and a trio of free throws gave the Eagles a one-point advantage. Selland made a layup with nine seconds remaining to put the Jacks ahead, but Florida Gulf Coast answered with a basket of their own to seal a late 71-70 win.
"I still feel good about where we are right now," Johnston said. "Our team has really progressed and I thought we played very well. Offensively it was probably one of our more efficient games. We took better care of the basketball and I thought our shot selection was really good. We did all the things we needed to do to win, we just needed to finish the game better."