WNIT Preview: South Dakota vs. Houston
The South Dakota women's basketball is doing something this week they haven't had to do since the calendar still read '2017' - take the floor after a loss.
When the Coyotes (26-6) host Houston in the opening round of the 2018 WNIT, Thursday (March 15), they'll be looking to start a win streak for the first time since their last defeat - December 16 at the hands of Tulsa.
Since that setback, USD reeled off 20 straight wins, including the first undefeated Summit League season since 1994, before falling to South Dakota State in the conference tournament title game last week. By virtue of their regular season conference title and tournament loss, USD goes into the 32-team field as an automatic qualifier.
The Coyotes are in the top 25 in the NCAA in field goal percentage (47%), free throw percentage (81%), three-point percentage (37%), three-pointers made (9 per game), steals (327), and turnover margin (+5).
Allison Arens is in the top ten in the NCAA in free throw percentage (90%) Jaycee Bradley is in the top 20 in three-point percentage (43%)
The Cougars (20-11), an at-large pick in the field, are in the top 15 in the nation in steals and turnovers forced. They shot more free throws and the second most three-pointers of any team in the American Athletic Conference, where they finished fifth in the standings.
Sophomore guard Angela Harris led the AAC and was in the the top 20 in the nation in steals. She also had the second most three-point attempts and makes in the conference. Sophomore guard Jasmyne Harris is the team's leading scorer, averaging just under 20 points per game. Junior guard Serithia Hawkins is the leading rebounder (8 per game).
Houston has a non-conference win over Texas Tech and a 60-point loss to perennial powerhouse Connecticut. They were upset by Tulsa in the opening round of the AAC tournament.
This is South Dakota's fourth straight trip to the WNIT. They won the 2016 tournament after winning the Summit League regular season and losing to South Dakota State in the conference tournament title game.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday in Vermillion.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Dawn Plitzuweit about the match-up with the Cougars: