SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- South Dakota coach Aaron Johnston's team came up with some big rebounds down the stretch to hold off Quinnipiac.
Macy Miller scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the No. 6 seed Jackrabbits to a 76-65 win over 11th-seeded Quinnipiac in a first-round game of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
The victory was the 17th straight for the Jackrabbits (27-6), who will meet the winner of the Syracuse-Fordham game on Monday.
Myah Selland chipped in with 14 points and nine boards for South Dakota State and Madison Guebert added 11 points.
With Quinnipiac only down 64-61 with 2:59 to go, Miller missed missed a 3-pointer for South Dakota State, but Selland grabbed the offensive rebound. Tagyn Larson missed another 3, but Tylee Irwin grabbed that board. Fay then fouled Irwin, who sank two free throws to make it 66-61.
A traditional three-point play by Paige Warfel brought Quinnipiac to 69-64. Miller missed a jump shot on South Dakota State's ensuing possession, but Irwin grabbed yet one more offensive board. Fay then fouled Miller, who proceeded to make both free throws.
"Those rebounds were great to see," Johnston said. "Those are difference makers. They're momentum changers. They're mental changers, too. I'm not surprised the game came down to that."
Neither was Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri.
"That was tough. They capitalized on what was one of our strengths all season long," Fabbri said. "That hurt because I think that one possession we gave up two or three offensive rebounds that resulted in fouls."
Jen Fay led Quinnipiac (26-7) with 25 points and nine rebounds. Paula Strautmane had 15 points. The loss snapped the Bobcats' 21-game winning streak.
South Dakota State dominated on the boards, outrebounding Quinnipiac 49-34.
A jumper by Fay brought Quinnipiac to within 64-61 with 2:59 to go. Miller
The Jackrabbits held a 41-30 halftime lead, but Fay rallied Quinnipiac in the third quarter, scoring 12 points to close the gap to 58-51 at the end of the period. Fay's hot hand continued in the fourth, her lay-in at 3:29 bringing the Bobcats to within 62-59.
Fay was a perfect 4 of 4 after the break.
"Obviously, I wasn't making too many shots in the first half," Fay said of her 3-for-7 performance in the first two quarters. "In the second half I was trying to get into a flow to bring the team back. I went out being aggressive."
Irwin's lay-in with 3:20 extended South Dakota State's lead to 64-59, but Fay connected on another jumper to bring Quinnipiac within 64-61 with 2:59 to go.
Two foul shots by Irwin and a 3 by Miller extended South Dakota State's lead to eight with 1:31 to go. Miller hit five more foul shots and Selland sank two from the line to secure the victory.
"Rebounding is super important," Selland said. "It's something we work on all the time and it really paid off at the end."
Quinnipiac fought back without much help from their second-leading scorer. Aryn McClure scored just 11 points on 5 of 19 shooting and fouled out. Nevertheless, it was a great season for the Bobcats, who were a perfect 18-0 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.
South Dakota State is now 23-1 when holding opponents to 70 points or less, and the Jackrabbits' toughness showed down the stretch with several key offensive rebounds that kept Quinnipiac at bay.
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