As the South Dakota women's basketball team opens play this weekend, they do so with the same vantage point they've had for much of the Summit League schedule - as front runners.

The Coyotes lead on the field is one game after sweeping a pair at home last week. It began with a 82-56 win over Denver, a game that saw the USD defense limit the Pioneers to just five second half baskets, while getting significant minutes from ten different players.

South Dakota had 20 offensive rebounds in the game, including four from Lisa Loeffler, and put together a 24-6 run to start the second half to blow things open.  Head coach Amy Williams says those runs are a key to success:

Last Saturday, the Coyotes avenged an earlier loss in Tulsa by beating Oral Roberts 93-70. The USD bench was a key in the victory, scoring 46 points, led by freshman Kate Liveringhouse's 21. Even though ORU's Vicky McIntyre had 32 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocked shots, the Coyotes were able to hold their own inside, outrebounding the Golden Eagles by five and scoring 21 second chance points.

Coach Williams says game planning for the nation's leading rebounder and shot blocker was more effective after seeing her in person last month:

Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia

This week, the Coyotes host Fort Wayne Friday. USD beat the Mastodons 73-72 in Indiana last month, but did turn the ball over 16 times and get outrebounded by four.  Another area Coach Williams says they need to improve is defending Haley Seibert, who scored 31 in the first meeting, including 18 points from behind the three-point arc:

Tipoff is 7:00 PM Friday in Vermillion.