The South Dakota State women's basketball team defeated No. 21/20-ranked South Florida on Thursday in the initial game of the Cancun Challenge at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Cancun, Mexico.
The Jackrabbits advanced to 4-2 on the season as USF fell to 5-2.
"I thought we played a really clean first half. We missed a lot of really makeable shots and some free throws and just weren't as sharp offensively, but our defense was really good," said head coach Aaron Johnston. "USF shoots the ball really well, so there certainly were probably some missed shots that contributed to that, but I still think our defense was good. They didn't get a lot of just easy catch and shoot rhythm shots, they had to work really hard for them."
A trio of Jackrabbits reached double figures, led by Myah Selland with 17 points. The junior added three steals and a block. Paiton Burckhard turned in 16 points and led the team off the glass, tying her career-best of nine rebounds. Kallie Theisen posted a career-high 10 points in the win for the Jacks.
Rylie Cascio Jensen led the team with four assists. Tylee Irwin recorded a career-best eight rebounds while adding four points.
The Jackrabbits held a 48.9 field goal percentage, including shooting 63.6 in the second half.
Selland scored all 10 points in the Jackrabbits' opening 10-2 run of the game, including two 3-pointers. USF came back to tie the game early at 14-all, but a basket from Burckhard and a Lindsey Theuninck 3-pointer put State ahead, 19-16, at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulls narrowly outscored SDSU in the second quarter, 13-11, but the Jacks clung to a 30-29 advantage heading into halftime. The third quarter saw seven lead changes as the teams went back-and-forth, battling for a lead. The Jackrabbits trailed South Florida 40-38 entering the final frame.
USF held a 46-44 edge midway through the fourth quarter when State went on a 15-0 run that would provide enough separation to lead the Jacks to a 61-50 victory on Thanksgiving.
"We played a really good fourth quarter," Johnston said. "We've had some close games this year where we didn't finish well and could've won, so it was just really great to see them respond and feel really good about the fight they put into it and see them rewarded with that win."
• South Dakota State now holds a 1-0 advantage in the all-time series over USF.
• The Jackrabbits are now 11-28 versus nationally ranked opponents.
• For the first time this season, three Jackrabbits reached double figures.
• Kallie Theisen, Paiton Burckhard and Tylee Irwin set new career highs in the win
South Dakota State continues play at the Cancun Challenge as it takes on Notre Dame on Friday at 10 a.m. CT/ 11 a.m. ET.