Summit League Preview: #23 South Dakota Women Host Denver, at South Dakota State
The #23 Coyotes (23-3/11-1 Summit League) begin the week a half-game back of South Dakota State atop the conference standings with a head-to-head meeting against the Jackrabbits coming up Sunday (February 24).
But before that marquee match-up in Brookings, USD has some unfinished business to take care of against Denver.
The Pioneers (14-11/7-5 Summit League) are the only conference team to beat the Coyotes in the regular season in the last two years.
Denver has won two straight and features the most up-tempo attack in the Summit. The Pioneers average 63 shot attempts per game and have topped 60 attempts in six of their last eight.
Juniors Lauren Loven and Madison Nelson, and senior Samantha Romanowski all average better than 12 points per game. Loven's 41 three-pointers are second-best in the Summit. Nelson is in the top ten in scoring rebounding, steals, and blocked shots. Romanowski leads the conference in assists.
The Pioneers have turned it over just 16 times in the last two games and made 21 three-pointers.
The Denver defense has 22 steals in the last two games and has held opponents to just 6-of-36 (17%) from the three-point line during that time.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday in Vermillion.
In the first meeting last month in Colorado, The Pioneers and Coyotes played a dead-even first half before DU shot 58 percent in the second half to win 104-99.
Denver's defense forced 22 USD turnovers, the most the Coyotes have turned it over in the last 14 games.
Loven's 32 points led the Pioneers. Chloe Lamb had 23 for South Dakota.
After Denver, the Coyotes head to South Dakota State Sunday afternoon.
The Jackrabbits (20-6/12-1 Summit League) enter the week with their own ten-game winning streak and a half-game lead on USD in the standings.
SDSU leads the conference in scoring, field goal percentage, rebounding, assists, and fewest turnovers.
The talented senior backcourt of Macy Miller and Madison Guebert are among the top ten scorers in the league. Miller is also sixth in assists and eighth in steals. Guebert is third in three-point shooting.
Junior Tagyn Larson, a ten-point per game scorer on average, has been averaging 17 points per game on 80 percent shooting in her last three.
The Coyotes won the first meeting, 105-98 in double overtime, last month in Vermillion.
In a game that featured 12 ties and five lead changes, both teams shot the ball well in the first half as USD led by two at intermission.
After trailing by as many as five points in the third quarter, the Jackrabbits mounted a comeback, scoring 11 straight points on the strength of a defense that converted 11 South Dakota turnovers into 24 points on the day.
The Coyotes scored 13 of the first 20 points in the fourth quarter to retake the lead.
That advantage was three in the final seconds of regulation when Miller drained a three-pointer with eight seconds left to pull SDSU even and force overtime.
In the first extra period, the Jacks opened with a 9-2 run to lead by seven with 2:52 to play. But USD scored nine of the last 11 to force the game to a second overtime where they held SDSU without a field goal for the first 2:30 while knocking down six straight free throws to secure the win.
Duffy had 28 to lead USD. Miller had 31 to lead SDSU.
Tipoff is 1:00 PM, Sunday in Brookings.
Last Saturday (February 16), the Coyotes got their tenth straight win with an 83-61 victory at Western Illinois.
The Leathernecks started strong with eight points in the paint and eight free throws in the first quarter to lead by a point after ten minutes.
The rest of the game belonged to the Coyotes who went on a 22-6 run to end the first half, scoring ten second quarter points off of turnovers. USD then shot 59 percent in the second half.
Ciara Duffy scored 16 of her 18 points in the first half, Hannah Sjerven had 16 of her game-high 20 in the second half.
The USD defense limited one of the top three-point shooting in the country to just 4-of-26 from behind the arc.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Dawn Plitzuweit about last week's game and the match-ups with Denver and South Dakota State: