PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Myah Selland played determined in the final minutes not to miss South Dakota State’s attempt to beat a top-10 opponent.
Selland scored 14 of their 25 points in a dominating fourth quarter to help the Jackrabbits beat 10th-ranked Louisville in Monday’s fifth-place playoff at Battle 4 Atlantis 65-55. It was the highest-ranked opponent the program has beaten since moving to Division I for the 2004–05 season.
It started with the 6-foot-1 forward being selected as a sixth-year preseason player of the year in the Summit League. She helped the Jackrabbits (4-2) regroup after wiping out most of their 17-point lead in the third quarter against defensive pressure from the Cardinals and scoring 10 of the team’s last 11 points.
“I think we just played really well on the track and just stayed in our system,” Selland said. “I looked good, but that was because the rest of us were executing.”
Maybe so, but that understates how big she played in the most critical minutes.
“I think it’s one of the firsts this year and we’ve played against some good opponents where I really felt Myah came through,” said coach Aaron Johnston. Some of this she did because of some abusive phone calls and other things.
“But where you really need players like that is when things aren’t going well. … And Myah was that for us in the fourth quarter.”
She also finished the game with 11 rebounds, including dodging to the floor to grab a late one that kept a possession alive and eventually led to her turning the bucket in the lane and taking a 62-52 lead 1:24 was left.
Hailey Van Lith scored 26 points for the Cardinals (4-2), although no other Louisville player scored in double figures. Van Lith made 10 of 20 shots and three 3-pointers, including one with 6 1/2 minutes left that put Louisville 50-47.
But the cardinals came no closer.
Jeff Walz said he was concerned coming in after the team didn’t have a good shootout or pregame warm-up.
“We are not currently conducting an execution,” said Walz. “We’re sloppy at both ends of the floor. … We don’t communicate (defensively). And until we can fix that, we will be Jekyll and Hyde.”
Louisville: This has been a confusing journey for Walz, who reached his fourth Final Four last year. The Cardinals were beaten heavily on the glass in both losses, first by 19 (50-31) to Gonzaga and then by 17 (41-24) to South Dakota State. It was also a three-day journey during which he questioned his team’s competitiveness at key moments.
“We’ll find out very quickly who wants to be a player,” said Walz, describing the game as a “belly check.”
South Dakota State: Johnston is in his 23rd season as a coach and has established the Jackrabbits as a strong mid-major program with 10 applications to NCAA tournaments, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2019. Add another milestone to the list with this win; South Dakota State has never beaten a team ranked higher than 12th, most recently in Syracuse at the 2019 NCAA tournament.
Louisville’s defeat meant that all three ranked teams competing in the Atlantis tournament lost at least twice within three days.
No. 23 Tennessee lost to eventual champion UCLA — who entered Monday’s AP Top 25 poll at No. 20 — and Gonzaga, while Louisville also lost to the Zags.
No. 19 Texas lost to Marquette and Louisville and still has to face Rutgers in Monday night’s seventh-place playoff.
Louisville: The Cardinals host Longwood on Friday.
South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits travel to Washington State next Monday.
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
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