Balanced scoring has been a staple for the University of South Dakota’s women’s basketball team this year, and Thursday night was no different.
Six Coyotes scored 10 or more points, led by senior guard Raeshel Contreras’ 17-point effort, to beat North Dakota State 84-69 at the DakotaDome.
“None of them get caught up in ‘I need to be player of the week’ or ‘I need to score more points so I can get individual accolades,'” said USD head coach Amy Williams. “They all just want to win basketball games.”
The Coyotes hopped on the Bison early, scoring seven straight points to start the game, and eventually jumped to a 14-2 lead.
“Those kids really came out aggressive and carried out our game plan to a T,” Williams said.
Much of the Coyotes’ early success came in transition.
“(The Bison) weren’t as good in defensive transition, and we’re pretty good in offensive transition, so we knew that we just had to get that quick start on them,” said USD guard Nicole Seekamp.
USD fired on all cylinders in the first half, eventually making the score 42-18. However, the Bison cut into the Coyote lead before halftime.
The teams headed to the locker rooms 44-26.
The Bison were an improved offensive team in the second half.
“The same things I was really praising our team for at halftime, we didn’t do so well in the first five minutes of that second half,” Williams said.
NDSU cut the Coyote lead to single digits after the Bison’s Marena Whittle’s three-point play with 3:53 remaining on the clock.
“They can score points in a little amount of time,” said USD junior guard Tia Hemiller.
Sophomore forward Bridget Arens wouldn’t let the Bison get any closer in scoring. The Coyote forward made three straight buckets to keep the Bison at bay, helping the Coyotes to the 84-69 victory.
Contreras led USD with 17 points, and Seekamp scored 14 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed five rebounds.
Hemiller had 11 points, five assists and eight rebounds. Junior center Margaret McCloud scored 11 points for the Coyotes, while senior forward Lisa Loeffler and Arens added 10 each.
For the Bison, Brooke Lemar scored 23 points. Holly Johnson had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Coyotes improve to 13-4 (3-1 Summit League) with the win, while the Bison drop to 7-10 (3-2). The Coyotes host in-state rival South Dakota State in Vermillion Saturday. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. in the DakotaDome.
(Photo: Junior guard Tia Hemiller gets some air while driving to the hoop against North Dakota State. The Coyotes won the matchup Thursday 84-69 and improved to a 13-4 record on the season. Megan Card / The Volante)