USD women’s basketball landed 25th in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll. This is the first time in program history that USD has been ranked by the AP. The Coyotes received votes for ten straight weeks before Monday’s latest rankings.
“It certainly is a very special honor for the young ladies for the effort and the time they have put in. It just means a lot to our program that we’re continuing to be in the conversation among the best programs out there.” head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.
The Coyotes first received votes this season in early December after beating at the time No. 23 Iowa State. The win was the Coyotes first victory over an AP Top 25 opponent. USD won their second game against a Top 25 opponent on Dec. 15 against then No. 22 Missouri.
In other rankings, the Coyotes are second in the collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 and first in the ESPNW mid-major power rankings. USD also ranked 25th in the USA Today/Coaches poll announced Tuesday. The Coyotes also rank 39th in the RPI.
“It’s an incredible honor, and I think too, there has been so many great teams at USD, so many great women’s basketball teams,” Junior Ciara Duffy said. “So for us to kind of have this be something we can leave with this program, all of us being a part of the first team that was ranked is a really cool legacy for us.”
Charlie Creme of ESPN has the Coyotes as an eight-seed in his latest bracketology. He has them playing in Storrs, Conn. against Auburn in the first round. The second round matchup would be either Connecticut or Robert Morris.
Duffy, January’s Summit League Athlete of the Month, leads the Coyotes at 14.9 points per game. Her 18 point performance Saturday helped lead the Coyotes back from down double figures to beat Oral Roberts and keep the nine-game winning streak alive. The last USD loss was a 104-99 loss to Denver on Jan. 3
“It was a really cool award, I was really surprised to receive it, but I think it’s something that reflects on the whole team,” Duffy said. “Because we had a really good January in terms of winning games and winning some tough games in there. That doesn’t happen without the efforts of the entire team so it reflects on everyone.”
USD is 22-3 on the season, and their 10-1 record in the conference has them tied for first in the Summit League with South Dakota State. South Dakota State was the last Summit League team to be ranked, who landed in the Top 25 during the 2008-09 season. Sophomore Chloe Lamb grew up in Onida, S.D. and says this is the best place to represent the state of South Dakota.
“I wanted to be able to represent my home state and be able to do that as best I could,” Lamb said. “This is the best place to do it, being in Vermillion at the University of South Dakota. It’s the best place to represent my home town, home state, and it’s been working out really well lately.”
The Coyotes play three of their final five games inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center. They have yet to lose this season inside the SCSC, and have allowed two opponents to score more than 60 points (South Dakota State and Oral Roberts). The next game for USD is at Western Illinois Saturday, Feb 16. The last meeting between the two was a 92-49 win for the Coyotes.
“With this group we are going to celebrate this, it’s something that should be and needs to be celebrated, but this isn’t going to prove anything for us,” Lamb said. “There is still a lot of to accomplish, so I don’t want to get hung up on this and I know with this group we won’t.”