A match between a Big Ten school wasn’t going to be a tough one to win, but the Coyotes succeeded to do just that in front of a crowd of 3,072 in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center. The Coyotes overcame a 16-point deficit to upset Michigan State 85-83 in overtime and advance to the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
The first quarter saw a defensive and offensive struggle against the Spartans, who went into a full-court zone defense. Though the Coyotes shot 47 percent in the first quarter, it wasn’t matched to the Spartans’ 76 percent, including going 3-4 on three-pointers. Though Michigan held up a tough defense that didn’t falter through the first half, the Coyotes didn’t let up, and ended the first quarter trailing 18-31.
The second quarter saw a tougher Coyote defense and offense. The Coyotes’ previous 13-point lead was cut to seven at one point, though the Spartans kept shooting at a higher percentage. The Coyotes left the second half trailing only three points after a strong offensive and defensive comeback.
Strategic fouling by the Coyotes led them in the third half, and they took the lead for the first time following a layup by sophomore Ciara Duffy with under five minutes to play. The third quarter ended 61-58, Spartans.
The fourth quarter with a loud crowd led the Coyotes to quickly take offensive control, with each team going back and forth between scoring. A quick layup by Duffy with 22 seconds left in the fourth led the team to overtime.
The Coyotes put up a fight against the Big Ten school in overtime, with quick transitions that the Spartans and USD didn’t let falter. A three-pointer by Lamb gave the Coyotes a quick lead with 23 seconds left to play. The Coyotes didn’t allow the Spartans another shot after that, and left the game 85-83 against the Spartans.
The leader for the Coyotes was Duffy with 25 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Lamb added 18 points to the scoreboard followed by senior Kate Liveringhouse with 12 and junior Allison Arens with 10.
Duffy said the game was an “amazing” win for the Coyotes.
“That was such a team win,” she said. “I’m just so proud of everyone on the team. All the girls that got us ready to play, everybody who contributed, it was an incredible team win.”
Lamb said the team had to overcome their rough start in the first quarter.
“I think we did a really good job not giving up on each other, we kept trusting each other and making sure we were focused on the set goal at hand,” she said. “Everyone just kept doing their job, I think down the stretch everyone did a better job at doing their job, and that helped a lot.”
Lamb said the final three of the game was a great play made by her with the assist from Duffy.
“I’m just really glad Ciara passed it to me… she did a great job penetrating, seeing the floor really well, saw me on the wing and I was able to put it in,” she said.
Duffy said the crowd helped a lot to fuel their energy, even when they were down.
“We’ve said it all year, we have some of the greatest fans in the nation, truly,” Duffy said.
Head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said this game was “special” to be part of.
“We got got kind of blindsided by a lot of things early in the game, and then started to figure it out,” she said. “They’re good, they’re so good, they’re so talented. We feel really fortunate to come out on top.”
The Coyotes take on the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs in the quarterfinal match of the WNIT.