USD women’s basketball team earned their first victory over a ranked Division-I opponent Wednesday night at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center, beating No. 23 Iowa State 64-59.
Iowa State (5-1) took their only lead of the game on the first basket. USD (6-1), ranked No. 6 in mid-major standings, responded with a three pointer roughly three minutes later, taking the lead, and not giving it back. Outsized by Big 12 talent, the Coyotes found refuge behind the arc, making 12 of 28 three-point attempts. Five of those baskets came from junior guard Ciara Duffy, who led USD with 17 points.
“I think as we gained momentum there was sort of this realization that we are good enough to play with them.” Duffy said. “I think the goal is to come out and play hard every game. That was the goal for this game and we executed that pretty well.”
The Coyotes found themselves in foul trouble early, when junior forward Taylor Frederick picked up her second foul before the midway point of the first quarter. Redshirt-sophomore Hannah Sjerven came off the bench and was a force under the basket throughout the game. Sjerven finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals, posting the team’s first double-double since December of 2017.
USD held Iowa State to nine points in each of the first two quarters, and extended a deficit at halftime scoring 23 points in the second quarter alone. Three minutes into the third quarter, the Coyotes led Iowa State by 19, their largest lead of the game.
“I think we knew the whole time that they are a really good team,” Duffy said. “We said that, at halftime, there is going to be a point where they go on a run. They haven’t gotten where they are by not being able to score the ball and I think we saw that in the fourth quarter.”
At the five and a half minute mark in the fourth quarter, Iowa State trailed by 18. Over the next four and a half minutes, the Cyclones grabbed momentum with a 15-0 run, cutting the lead down to three. Junior guard Madison McKeever broke USD’s five-minute scoring draught and extended the lead to five with 57 seconds left. Two Cyclone possessions later, McKeever secured a rebound from a missed Cyclone layup and handed a top-tier team their first loss of the season.
“They scored it really well and we kind of had a dry spell but at the same time we kept coming together saying we have to weather the storm, we just need to get stops,” Duffy said “We did that down the stretch. It wasn’t always pretty but we got the win.”
Behind Duffy, senior guard Allison Arens recorded 11 points and seven rebounds. The Coyotes shot 38.5 percent from the field while holding ISU to 37.3 percent.
Defense was key for the Coyotes in the game, specifically in covering senior guard Bridget Carleton, who leads Iowa State with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. She scored 14 against USD, hitting five of 19 shots. Head Coach Dawn Plitzuweit credited her team on doing a great job of containing a player who has the “potential to play at the next level”. Sophomore forward Madison Wise led the Cyclones with 19 points, hitting all eight of her free throws.
As if one tough opponent was not enough, the Coyotes host Green Bay, ranked fourth in mid-major standings, on Saturday. The Phoenix have made it to the NCAA tournament for four straight seasons, missing the tournament only five times in the last 21 seasons.
Green Bay’s defense, ranked first of 349 teams, will be a challenge for the Coyotes, Plitzuweit said.
“Green Bay is an incredible opponent who really separates themselves from the rest of the country and they way they defend,” Plitzuweit said. “To have an opponent who will come in here and really teach us some different things. They can space the floor, they have some kids who can post up and perimeter kids who can shoot it and space the floor. They play without fear they really get after it so I have a lot of respect for what they have done.”
The game will be part of a men’s/women’s basketball double-header Saturday in the SCSC. The women play Green Bay at 1 pm and the men’s game against CSU-Bakersfield is scheduled to start at 3:30.