Coyotes cruise past Omaha, advance to Summit league semifinals
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Coyotes cruise past Omaha, advance to Summit league semifinals

The No. 17/12 Coyotes jumped on top early and cruised to a 99-40 victory over Omaha in the quarterfinals of the Summit League women’s basketball tournament Saturday in the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls.

USD’s lead was 31-9 by the end of the first quarter and 64-18 at halftime. The Coyotes (28-2) continued to grow the lead in the second half. By the three minute mark of the third quarter, all five Coyote starters were on the bench for the day, with not a single one playing more than 22 minutes.

“We came out of the gates and were very solid on both ends of the court,” USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “We were really good defensively. Omaha made some shots that were tough shots early in the game.”

The Coyotes controlled every aspect of the game. The Coyotes out-rebounded Omaha 51-26, and USD made 13 three-pointers, while Omaha made 14 field goals for the game.

“Our offense is set up for every player to score,” junior Hannah Sjerven said. “It’s not set up for one specific player (to score).”

Senior Ciara Duffy tallied 14 points, five rebounds and five assists in the first half to lead the Coyotes into the break. She finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes. Junior Monica Arens and Sjerven were a perfect 10-for-10 combined, contributing 16 and 14 points respectively.

Chloe Lamb also finished in double figures with 11 points. Senior Taylor Frederick and freshman Macy Guebert added eight points off the bench for USD.

Ella Ogier led Omaha with 13 points. Mariah Murdie added 10 points and six rebounds. Senior Rayanna Carter went 2-for-13 from the field for five points.

“They (USD) do a good job of being aggressive and they’re a very low mistake team,” Carter said. “They’re going to make you play no matter what the situation is on both ends of the court.”

The Coyotes’ 99 points are the fifth most in Summit League Tournament history and most scored by a USD team. The Coyotes shot 50.7% for the game and 56.5% from deep.

For Omaha, this ends the season with a 7-23 record overall. After missing the tournament last season, the Mavericks will look to build on this for the future.

“We are playing an incredible amount of freshman and sophomores over the last two years as we kind of hit the reset button,” Omaha head coach Brittany Lange said. “There’s a lot of talent obviously, Mariah Murdie, Ella Ogier, you can see it’s there, It’s kind of a rawness that they got to keep developing into but they’re really key pieces.”

The Coyotes await the winner of Oral Roberts and Western Illinois Sunday afternoon and will play the winner at noon Monday. Despite the strong performance, Arens said the Coyotes believe there’s more to work on in the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

“I think there’s some unfinished business in this building so the level of focus and the determination that we have to perform well this weekend is at another level,” Arens said.