PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP)Myah Selland played the final minutes determined not to let South Dakota State’s shot of beating a top-10 opponent slip away.
Selland scored 14 of her 25 points in a dominating fourth quarter to help the Jackrabbits beat 10th-ranked Louisville 65-55 in Monday’s fifth-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis. It marked 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 sixth-year forward, who was the preseason pick for Summit League player of the year. She helped the Jackrabbits (4-2) regroup after blowing most of a 17-point third-quarter lead against the Cardinals’ defensive pressure, scoring 10 of the team’s final 11 points.
”I think we just executed really well down the stretch and just stayed within our system,” Selland said. ”I got good looks but that’s because the rest of us were executing.”
Maybe so, but that understates how big she played in the most critical minutes.
”I think this is one of the first times this year, and we’ve played some good opponents, where I really felt like Myah asserted herself,” coach Aaron Johnston said. Some of that she did out of some offensive calls and things.
”But where you really need players like that to do it is when things aren’t going well. … And Myah was that for us in the fourth quarter.”
She also finished with 11 rebounds for the game, including diving on the floor to snag one late that kept a possession alive and ultimately led to her twisting bucket in the lane for a 62-52 lead with 1:24 left.
Hailey Van Lith scored 26 points for the Cardinals (4-2), though no other Louisville players scored in double figures. Van Lith made 10 of 20 shots and three 3-pointers, including one with 6 1/2 minutes left that brought Louisville to within 50-47.
But the Cardinals got no closer.
Jeff Walz said he was concerned coming in after the team didn’t have a good shootaround or pregame warmups.
”We don’t execute right now,” Walz said. ”We’re sloppy at both ends of the floor. … We don’t communicate (defensively). And until we can fix that, we’re going to be Jekyll and Hyde.”
Louisville: This was a perplexing trip for Walz, who reached his fourth Final Four last year. The Cardinals were beaten badly on the glass in both of their losses, first by 19 (50-31) against Gonzaga and then 17 (41-24) against South Dakota State. It was also a three-day trip that had him questioning his team’s competitiveness in key moments.
”We’re going to find out real quick who wants to be a player,” Walz said, referring to the game as a ”gut check.”
South Dakota State: Johnston is in his 23rd season as coach and has established the Jackrabbits as a strong mid-major program with 10 NCAA Tournament bids, 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 at Syracuse in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Louisville’s loss meant that all three ranked teams entering the Atlantis tournament lost at least twice in three days.
No. 23 Tennessee lost to eventual champion UCLA – which entered the AP Top 25 poll Monday at No. 20 – and Gonzaga, while Louisville also lost to the Zags.
No. 19 Texas lost to Marquette and Louisville, and then beat Rutgers in Monday night’s seventh-place game.
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
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25