The Coyote women’s basketball team eclipsed a physical battle with North Dakota to advance to the Summit League Championship tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon.
In two regular-season meetings between the Fighting Hawks and Coyotes, there were 120 fouls and over 100 free throws attempted; this game was no different. There were 53 fouls and 48 free throws in the game.
“We knew this was going to be a really physical game,” Junior Ciara Duffy said. “They’ve got a lot of really good athletes, a lot of physical players. We did kind of physically and mentally prepare for that coming into the game.”
The Coyotes controlled the first quarter, but North Dakota’s full-court press forced 10 first-half USD turnovers and kept UND in contention. They also dominated the third quarter like they did the first, extending the lead to 22 by the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter brought more physical play, but the Fighting Hawks couldn’t chip into the lead. Senior Allison Arens scored 17 points and snatched eight rebounds. Duffy finished with 17 points and six boards, and Taylor Frederick 15 points. Madison McKeever added 10 points, eight of which came from the free throw line.
Melissa Dailey led the Fighting Hawks with 17 points. Jill Morton fouled out, but tallied 12 points. Lexi Klabo added 12 points and seven rebounds.
The Summit League Championship game is a rematch of last year’s championship game. SDSU and USD have met in the championship game four times previous to this year (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2018). The Coyotes have yet to top the Jackrabbits in the title game. This is the fourth consecutive time these two meet as the top two seeds in the championship.
“South Dakota State has a lot of really good athletes, a lot of skilled players,” Duffy said, “Really physical play, especially down low. I think, yeah, this was a good prep game for that.”
The first two meetings between these two this year did not disappoint–the Coyotes winning the first go-round 105-98 and SDSU snatching the second meeting 82-78. Both games went to overtime, the first going into double OT.
The game will feature the Summit League Player of the Year (Macy Miller), Defensive Player of the Year (Allison Arens), Sixth Woman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year (Sjerven). USD boasts the Summit League Coach of the Year in Plitzuweit. In total, four first-team all-Summit players, one second-team player and three honorable mention players will take the court Tuesday afternoon.
Both teams are anticipated to make to NCAA Tournament, but seeding will be affected by the outcome of the game. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon inside the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
“I think it is certainly going to be an atmosphere that is second to none,” Plitzuweit said. “After having an opportunity to coach in the BIG10 and at the BIG10 tournament, I can tell you certainly from an athlete’s experience is very very different, because of the fan base that is here and the atmosphere. That’s something very unique.”