It was an intense back-and-forth game between the No.1 Coyotes and No. 5 Golden Eagles in the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center Monday afternoon. The Coyotes, however, remained victorious and earned a spot in the championships, winning 65-53 against Oral Roberts.
The game gave the Coyotes their 20th win overall in the season, ranked fifth in the nation.
Senior Kate Liveringhouse scored 19 points for the Coyotes. Sophomore Madison McKeever put up 15 points and freshman Chloe Lamb had 11. Junior Allison Arens had 12 rebounds and two assists in the game and added on nine points.
The Coyotes shot at 40 percent from the paint, 42 percent in three-pointers and 93 percent from the free throw line. Both teams had 33 rebounds.
After ORU’s win against Denver Monday afternoon, the Golden Eagles fought hard in the semifinal game, keeping the Coyotes in check on the defensive end for a large portion of the game. The two top defensive teams of the Summit League both defended well throughout the game.
Ultimately ORU could not recover after the Coyotes secured a 12-point lead at the final minutes of the game.
Head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said it was a “defensive battle” between both teams.
“I thought our young ladies came out and did a decent job defensively in the first half, but did a really nice job defensively in the second half,” she said at a press conference.
Arens said the main focus going into the game was taking care of the ball. She said the team is now preparing for the “moment” they’ve been waiting for all year: the championship game.
“You just have to block everything out and enjoy the precious present,” she said.
Liveringhouse, who is going into the championships her third time as a senior, said the team is ready to prepare for the next game.
“Depending on the next game, either team we just have to really focus on our game plan defensively, whatever that may be,” she said. “Both of those teams (South Dakota State University and Western Illinois) that are playing right now are great and they have really different schemes of offense, so we’re just really gonna have to buckle down and listen to our coaches and see what they have prepared for us and go from there.”
The Coyotes advance to the championship game set for Tuesday at 1 p.m., where they will take on either Western Illinois or rivals SDSU.