USD women’s basketball finished Saturday’s game against Oral Roberts on a 24-5 run spanning the final six-and-a-half-minutes to take a 75-64 victory inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
Oral Roberts opened the game on a three-point barrage, hitting six of their first eight from behind the arc. Sophomore Maya Mayberry and redshirt-senior Lakota Beatty each made two 3-pointers in the first quarter.
The Coyotes trailed by 15 points in the first quarter, but brought it within ten after the first. The second quarter was no different for the Golden Eagles, who hit 4-of-7 from three in the quarter. The Coyotes, after hitting 17.6 percent (3-of-17) of their shots in the first quarter, were an efficient 8-of-12 in the second.
The Golden Eagles hit seven more 3-pointers than the Coyotes, but at halftime USD only trailed by seven. Chloe Lamb finished the half a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and tallied 13 points.
Neither team shot well in the third quarter, and the Coyotes trimmed one point off the lead, making it a six-point game going into the fourth quarter.
Junior Ciara Duffy scored two points in the first three quarters, but caught fire in the fourth. She scored 16 of the team’s 27 points in the quarter. Duffy finished with 18 points and nine rebounds and made five of the team’s seven converted baskets in the period.
“I think it was teammates finding me openings, getting me the ball and just not wanting to lose to be honest. It was sort of just now or never at this point,” Duffy said. “I think we did a good job continually moving the ball, throughout the whole game to be honest, but shots just started to fall in the fourth quarter.”
The Coyote defense was a major difference in the second half. The Golden Eagles were 3-of-13 from beyond the arc for the half, and 11.8% (2-of-17) shooting in the fourth quarter. Oral Roberts missed 15 of their last 16 shots.
“I think just in everyone’s head, we just didn’t want it (Oral Robert’s three point success) to happen anymore. That’s kind of the mind-set we had going in, we knew we had to change something or else the end result wouldn’t be something we wanted,” Lamb said. “At halftime, we just had to refocus and change some things and we see how that turned out.”
Lamb finished the game with 17 points and junior Madison McKeever 14 to lead the Coyotes. Redshirt-sophomore Hannah Sjerven injured her ankle in the first quarter, but returned. Sjerven finished the game with seven points, five of which came from the charity stripe.
The injury continued to bother Sjerven throughout the game, but she checked in with roughly three minutes to go. She played one offensive possession, was fouled, made both free-throws, and was subbed out after the second shot fell. Those two free throws tied then gave USD the lead at 63-62.
Senior Allison Arens made her presence felt even though she only scored seven points. She led the team in rebounding with 10 boards and in assists with six.
“Allison (Arens) just grabbed 10 rebounds, and that’s just amazing, I think that’s just absolutely impressive,” head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “She has ten rebounds and six assists, and so many individual kids make a lot of things happen.”
Plitzuweit also praised her players’ toughness and performance on the offensive and defensive side of the ball in a game that Duffy called a “gut check” win for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes’ winning streak extends to nine games, and is currently over a month long. Oral Roberts is the second team to score over 60 points inside the SCSC this season, the first being South Dakota State on Jan 6.
Saturday was also “Pink Day” inside the SCSC in honor of breast cancer awareness. Plitzuweit thanked Sanford Vermillion for sponsoring the game and the fans who bid on the pink jersey that raised money for local hospitals.
The next game for the Coyotes is on the road at Western Illinois. The last meeting between the two teams was a 92-49 win for the Coyotes on Jan 26. The game is on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 4:30 p.m.