USD falls to SDSU in championship game
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USD falls to SDSU in championship game

Despite trying to defend its Summit League title, the University of South Dakota fell 72-57 to South Dakota State Tuesday afternoon in the Summit League Championship game at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

“I’m really proud of the Coyotes, we didn’t come out of the gate very good. We didn’t shoot well in the first half,” head coach Amy Williams said. “We had a real rough first half, but we fought to the end.”

After the Coyotes won the tip-off, senior guard Raeshel Contreras started the game with the team’s only three-pointer of the night. But the Jacks put a stop to that and gained points through layups — going on a 19-2 run in the record-setting attendance game of 6,926 people.

“(SDSU has) been playing very good defense the last few weeks. There were multiple times in the first half, where we thought we were getting good shots but not making them,” Williams said. “Part of that could be you’re a little rushed and not taking time. Certainly a credit to their defense and we just couldn’t get the ball to fall.”

Although the Coyotes couldn’t seem to sink any baskets, they did manage to snag a few points by going to the free throw line. The Coyotes gained 10 of their 19 points from the free throw line in the first half.

“We were just rushed. The atmosphere and the pressure of the game might have gotten to us a little bit,” senior guard Nicole Seekamp said. “For our team it is a learning experience and try to lock in in the first half.”

Usually the Coyotes look to out-rebound their opponent, but they failed to do that in the first half with SDSU leading 37-19.

“They have great pressure defense and pushed us out of spacing. They did a good job of making us rush (the shot),” senior center Margaret McCloud said.

Seekamp, junior guard Tia Hemiller and first-year center Kate Liveringhouse each had four points in the first half. Hemiller also had four steals.

“We talked at halftime about pulling together and win or lose fighting this thing to the final buzzer,” Williams said. “I am proud to say our team accomplished that.”

Starting off second half, McCloud made a bucket with an assist from Seekamp. From then on it was Seekamp and McCloud. But it wasn’t enough as the Jacks won 72-57.

“At this point any game is our last game, so we have to go out and play with each other, for each other and our school” McCloud said.

Seekamp had 21 points, five assists and three steals, while McCloud added 13 points and eight rebounds.

On the other hand, SDSU’s Macy Miller ended the game with 19 points, followed by Ellie Thompson with 18. Megan Waytashek had five assists and two steals. Those three were named All-Tournament team.

Averaging more than 20 points in the Summit League Tournament play, Seekamp was awarded All-Tournament team and Most Valuable Player.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team and I loved every second of it. This is the most I’ve felt like a team. Nobody cares who scores what and we go out and play,” Seekamp said. “We always seem to have someone step up. Honestly I’d love to trade that tournament MVP for the championship trophy.”

The Coyotes end the season with 25-7 record and look forward to playing in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament with a home-bid.

“We are going to take a little bit of time to feel on this one and recover; take a few days to absorb everything and refocus and recharge ourselves for post-season,” Williams said. “When we have a chance to win another tournament that is something we are going to lock in and take some pride in.”

(Photo: Junior guard Heidi Hoff scrums for the ball with SDSU senior guard Rachel Walters in the Coyotes’ 72-57 loss in 2015 Summit League Championship game Tuesday at Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls. Austin Ashlock / The Volante)



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