The No. 21/16 Coyotes (23-2, 12-0 CONF) picked up their 12th consecutive victory over Western Illinois (13-12, 7-5 CONF) to remain unbeaten in the conference on Thursday night in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
The Leathernecks were able to hold USD to 37% shooting in the first half before the Coyotes delivered a 51-point effort in the second half with a 12-0 stretch in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
“After halftime, I thought our young ladies did a really nice job moving the ball, sharing the ball, attacking the rim,” head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “At the same time, our defense was solid enough to keep us in a good position.”
The Leathernecks came into Thursday’s game attempting the second-most free throws and making the 14th-most three-point shots in the nation.
Junior center Hannah Sjerven said the matchup Western Illinois presents is different from other conference teams.
“I think they play a different style of basketball than some of the other teams in our conference,” Sjerven said. “They play fast and their transition is hard to stop. It’s a changeup from our normal scout in conference play.”
In total, five Coyotes reached double figures on the night. Sjerven led the Coyotes in points with 18 on 8-10 shooting while adding 11 rebounds to secure the double-double. She also added two blocked shots and a steal. Senior guard Ciara Duffy scored 11 points and dished a team-high seven assists, while junior guard Monica Arens swiped a team-high three steals to pair with her eight points.
Senior forward Taylor Frederick came off the bench and provided 13 points and six boards in 17 minutes of action. Freshman guard Macy Guebert drained back-to-back threes late in the fourth quarter to finish with six points. Junior guard Liv Korngable hit a buzzer-beating layup at the end of the third quarter as part of her six-point performance.
Sophomore guard Elizabeth Lutz was a force for the Leathernecks off the bench, scoring a team-best 18 points and tallying five steals in her 20 minutes of action. Sophomore forward Evan Zars and sophomore guard Danni Nichols each dropped eight points while senior guard Olivia Kaufmann dished five assists.
After improving to 23-2 on the season, junior guard Chloe Lamb said the team is using their success as motivation with the regular season winding down.
“I think for us, having the kind of record and repertoire that we do, we know that there’s maybe a bit of a target on our backs,” Lamb said. “We know that everyone’s going to give us their best shot when we come and play them. I think we’ve just been aware of that; we know that we can’t slack off with anything. We have to bring our A-game all the time.”
USD’s next test comes as they travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to face Oral Roberts on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m.