Summit League Preview: South Dakota Women at South Dakota State, Denver
In the past five seasons, the South Dakota women's basketball program has won Summit League regular season titles, a conference tournament championship, and even a national crown (WNIT). But none of those teams could match the start the 2017-18 Coyotes are off to.
USD (15-5/6-0 Summit League) is riding a nine-game winning streak, the tenth best current streak in the nation, and is unbeaten after six Summit League games for the first time ever, heading into what is the most important match-up of the season so far.
Thursday (January 25) the Coyotes travel to South Dakota State to battle the only other unbeaten team in the Summit.
The Jackrabbits (16-4/5-0 Summit League) have won six straight, 10-of-12 overall.
SDSU has the number one offense in the conference and two of the Summit's top three scorers on their roster. Junior guards Macy Miller (19 points per game) and Madison Guebert (18 points per game) are the most potent scoring duo in the conference.
Miller has been red hot in her last three games - scoring 80 points on 62 percent shooting. Guebert is in a bit of a shooting slump - scoring just 18 points while hitting just 28 percent in her last two, only 21 percent from behind the three-point arc.
South Dakota State has also been solid in other areas. The Jacks lead the conference in rebounding, despite not having a single player in the top six individually. They commit the second fewest turnovers and hold opponents to a league-low 38 percent field goal percentage.
Guard Myah Selland may miss her third straight game with an injury. Sophomore Tagyn Larson has started in her the last two games and has responded with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting with 14 rebounds.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday in Brookings.
Saturday (January 27), the Coyotes start the second half of the Summit League schedule at Denver.
The Pioneers (12-9/3-3 Summit League) have been a bit inconsistent in their last four - shooting 43 percent and turning it over just 22 times in wins over North Dakota State and Omaha, while shooting just 31 percent and committing 42 turnovers in losses to South Dakota State and Oral Roberts.
Denver did hit a season-high 16 three-pointers in the victory over the Bison. Lauren Loven connected on four of those long range shots.
Freshman Claire Gritt is leading DU in scoring with 13 points per game. She was 4-of-4 for 10 points in the first meeting with USD, which the Coyotes won 79-51. Gritt is the most accurate three-point shooter in the Summit League, hitting 57 percent from behind the arc.
The Pioneers also get to the free throw line more than any other conference team - 20 per game - and lead the Summit in offensive rebounding (Jordyn Alt - three per game).
In the first meeting, USD opened up a 15 point lead after the first quarter and shot 54 percent in the first half, while limiting Denver to just 36 percent for the game. While Gritt finished 4-of-4, the rest of the Pioneer starters were just 4-of-18 from the floor.
The Coyote defense forced 22 turnovers, leading to 22 points.
Duffy led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting.
Tipoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday in Denver.
Last Wednesday (January 17) the Coyotes rallied from an 11-point deficit late in the third quarter to post a 73-68 win at Oral Roberts.
USD's offense managed just two made baskets in the first quarter, but hit 65 percent of their shots the rest of the night.
The Golden Eagles got 12 first half points from Maria Martianez and 16 second half points from KeniJo Lippe to open up a double digit lead in the third, but the Coyote defense responded with back-to-back steals, keying an 11-0 run to pull even in the fourth quarter. Madison McKeever had five steals on a night that saw USD force 18 turnovers.
Down 68-66 with 2:19 to play in the game, the Coyotes closed things out with a 7-0 run. Allison Arens led all South Dakota scorers with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Jasmine Trimboli came off the bench and hit five of her eight shots, finishing the night with 15 points.
Saturday (January 20), the Coyotes ran their win streak to nine with a 70-46 win at home over Omaha.
Without the injured Jaycee Bradley, Trimboli got her first start in more than a month and she responded by scoring eight of USD's first 12 points, as the Coyotes led by as many as 21 points in the first half.
The South Dakota defense limited the Mavericks to just 28 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, forcing 11 turnovers. McKeever had three steals in the first half.
Ciara Duffy had ten of her 12 points in the first half to go with four rebounds and three assists.
Allison Arens led all scorers in the game with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. McKeever added 15 points.
I talked with USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit about last week's sweep and this week's match-ups with South Dakota State and Denver: