After a sluggish start, the Coyote women’s basketball team took down Purdue-Fort Wayne inside the Sandford Coyote Sports Center Saturday afternoon.
Redshirt sophomore Hannah Sjerven, awarded her first USD (15-3, 3-1) start due to an ankle injury to Madison McKeever, eclipsed 20 points in back-to-back games, finishing with 21 points and an efficient 8-of-11 from the field. Sjerven sat out last season due to NCAA transfer restrictions but has provided the Coyotes with a boost off the bench, averaging 10.6 points and 5.7 rebounds through 18 games. After the game she was asked about making her first start.
“It’s a milestone for a lot of players, but I think it almost feels like any other night just playing with the same girls,” Sjerven said. “I’m just trying to not focus on that and trying to focus on the game and the gameplan.”
The Mastadons (4-13, 0-5) came out firing in the first quarter but went cold in the second. After trailing 17-15 to end the first, Sjerven opened the scoring in the second with five straight points, and the Coyotes dominated the quarter, building a ten point lead, thanks to a 16-4 USD run in the second quarter built on defense.
“Coming into this game we were really focusing on our defensive intensity,” Junior Ciara Duffy said. “That has been a common theme this season, and this game was no different. This is a really good team and the Summit League is a really offensive conference, so it was a really good test for us.”
The Coyotes pieced together a consistent second half and posted 69-51 victory.
Though it seemed a quiet night for Duffy, who scored 28 in a double overtime win against South Dakota State last Sunday, she still came away with 15 points on 7-for-14 shooting, followed by Chloe Lamb with 13. Anna Lappenkuper finished with 11 points for the Mastadons.
South Dakota State leads the Summit League by a half game with a win over Oral Roberts. USD is tied with North Dakota for second place. The win over South Dakota State last weekend helps the Coyotes in the long run. After a pair of home games, the Coyotes will have three straight road games.
“These were two really important games to get us back to feeling comfortable; playing really hard and playing really well, I thought we did that in both of these games,” Plitzuweit said. “The next stretch of three games on the road is going to be an incredible challenge for us.”
The three-game road trip will start in Tulsa, Oklahoma against Oral Roberts Friday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. Their second game of the road trip is in Omaha on Sunday, part of a doubleheader with the USD men’s team.