It was a learning experience.
That was the University of South Dakota Coyotes’ reaction after a tough loss to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits for the Summit League Championship.
The women’s basketball team took on SDSU Tuesday afternoon in the Sioux Falls Arena for a chance at making the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. The Coyotes played hard the entire game, but fell just short, losing to the Jackrabbits 56-53.
“We got experience,” Nicole Seekamp said. “Obviously there’s people that doubted us and we can show them that we’re not going to sit back and do what they say. We’re going to fight hard and come out playing Coyote basketball.”
It was a tight game from the start, neither team holding more than a nine-point lead. The half didn’t start out well for the Coyotes as the Jackrabbits maintained at least a two point lead until seven minutes into the game, when USD grabbed the lead after a three pointer from Seekamp.
Seekamp was huge for the Coyotes in the first half, scoring 17 of the team’s 32 points. She helped give the team the lead going in at halftime, 32-28.
Other than her 17 points, Seekamp also grabbed four rebounds and had three steals in the first half for USD. Alexis Yackley had four assists and Polly Harrington pulled down six first-half rebounds.
Gabrielle Boever and Megan Waytashek led scoring for the Jackrabbits, each putting up seven points. Boever also had four steals for the team.
The second half of the game was a constant back and forth for both teams. At one point in the second half USD had a nine-point lead, but it was quickly erased by SDSU. From there, the lead went back and forth.
With five seconds left in the game, Alexis Yackley went to the line for a one-and-one, missing the first shot and getting her own rebound and nearly put in a three pointer to send the game into overtime. But, it wasn’t enough for the Coyotes, losing by the final score of 56-53.
“I had known it was a miss, so I followed where I thought the ball was going and tried to get to the three point line,” Yackley said about the last shot. “I honestly thought that it was in, but it wasn’t.”
Despite the tough loss, Seekamp and Tempestt Wilson were each named to the all-tournament team. Seekamp, who averaged 20 points per game in the tournament, was also named Summit League Tournament MVP. She was the first player from a runner-up team to be named MVP since 2004, and only the fifth all time.
Coach Amy Williams said Seekamp was a huge factor in carrying the team in the tournament.
“Since the first week of practice I’ve known that she’s a pretty special player,” Williams said about Seekamp. “At the end of the regular season and during this tournament she put us on her back and carried us for a while.”
This could be the last game of the season for the Coyotes, unless they are invited to the NIT or CIB tournaments, which will be announced later this week.