An 18-win streak resulted in the women’s basketball team earning the top seed in the Summit League Tournament March 3-6 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.
The women (24-5 in the season, 14-0 Summit) have reeled in successful wins that the team attributes to their dynamic chemistry.
The women ended their season undefeated.
Sophomore guard Ciara Duffy said the team is looking forward to “redeeming” themselves after losing the first round last year.
“I also think it is an incredible environment to get to play there,” Duffy said. “I’ve heard from multiple sources it’s one of the coolest conference tournaments in the country and I would definitely agree.”
Head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said the week before conference is focusing on improvements.
“During those prep days we’ll take a look at breaking down our offense and different segments,” she said. “We’ll work on different situations and really focus on getting better this week.”
Duffy said the team takes every game “one day at a time.”
“Even after we won Conference and we celebrated and were definitely excited, but still in the back of our minds, we knew we’re not done yet, that was not the ultimate goal,” Duffy said. “The ultimate goal is winning the conference tournament and going to the NCAA tournament.”
Junior guard Allison Arens said the season started out “a little rough,” but the team eventually stuck together to succeed.
“We just kept focusing on us and focusing on how to get better is kind of what we did,” Arens said.
Plitzuweit said it’s important for the team to focus on the tournament and not their undefeated season.
“We tell our players we don’t spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror, we don’t have time to do that right now,” Plitzuweit said. “We did something pretty special Wednesday night clinching the conference title, but it’s over with. Now it’s time to live in the precious present.”
In terms of practice, Arens said the team doesn’t change much leading into the tournament.
“I feel like every game you focus on something different, and right now we’re focusing more on the game as a whole and what we need to do to get better,” Arens said.
Though the team is in the top seed, Duffy said she knows the other teams will be giving it their all at the Summit League Tournament.
“They’ll be gunning for us,” she said. “It’s daunting (being the top seed) but also really exciting, and it’s going to make for a very interesting conference tournament and a couple exciting days for sure.”
During practice, Plitzuweit said the team has been improving on offense and defense.
“We’re really looking to focus on some spacing and some attacking principles,” she said.
Arens said she hopes the team relies on their close dynamics to win the championships and head to the NCAA tournaments.
“I would say we have one of the best team dynamics you can get,” she said. “We’re all very, very close, we support each other when things aren’t going well. We’re really like a family.”
Plitzuweit said the high level the team is playing at will translate on the court in the tournament.
“This team has a great deal of love for each other and chemistry, and that togetherness piece, sharing the basketball, trusting each other is really, really valuable,” she said.
The Coyotes start Summit League Tournament play March 3 against Fort Wayne. Tip-off starts at noon.