Women’s Basketball Preview: USD at Omaha
One year ago, the South Dakota women's basketball team was putting the final touches on their first ever season in the Summit League, with an impressive third place finish. Fans across the league questioned how this newcomer would fare in the Summit League Tournament against powerhouses South Dakota State and Oral Roberts.
There was just one problem. The Coyotes weren't eligible for the post season tournament as a first-year team, leaving that question forever unanswered.
In 2013, the landscape is a little different. Oral Roberts is gone and so is USD's coach, Ryun Williams, now the head coach at Colorado State. But two things remain the same: the Coyotes are in third place heading into the final weekend of the season, and there's still a Williams calling the shots, only now it's Amy, not Ryun, on the USD bench.
With a win in Omaha tonight, the Coyotes (9-6) will clinch at least the number three seed, and maybe, just maybe, slide into the second spot if IUPUI stumbles in its final two games.
USD's biggest strength as a team is rebounding. The Coyotes are the only team in the Summit to average more than 40 boards a game, and are in the top 40 in the nation with a plus-6 rebounding margin per game.
South Dakota has been without leading rebounder Margaret McCloud for the last three games because of injury. The freshman from Rapid City did practice this week, and might return to action tonight. Despite her absence, she still ranks fifth in the league in total rebounds (177) and rebounds per game (7).
Senior Tempestt Wilson has been leading the way offensively for the Coyotes the second half of the season. Wilson is the Summit League’s third leading scorer, averaging 16 points per game. She's been on a tear lately, scoring 39 points in her last three halves of play.
Points are important for this team. When they score 60 or more this season, they are 13-3, including a 62-57 win over Omaha in Vermillion in December.
That night, sophomore Lisa Loeffler had a career best night 14 points, on 7-for-11 shooting, while senior Alexis Yackley grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists.
The Coyote defense held one of the Summit League's top scorers in check in that game, limiting Paige Frauendorfer to 1-for-13 shooting, and just four points (11 below her average). USD also allowed UNO to shoot just 27 percent in the second half.
Omaha (6-8) finds itself in the same boat the Coyotes were in last season - on the outside looking in as a first-year team, ineligible for the Summit League Tournament. The Mavs have slipped to fifth in the conference after dropping their last three games, two of those defeats coming by a combined total of three points.
Tipoff in Omaha is 7:00pm.