VERMILLION, S.D.—Two of the nation's top mid-majors squared off on Saturday inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center as South Dakota grinded out a 55-49 victory over Green Bay.
The game was also a battle between old friends with South Dakota head coach Dawn Plitzuweit earning the victory over her mentor Kevin Borseth, Green Bay's head coach. Plitzuweit starred under Borseth at Michigan Tech, with the pair going on to coach 11 seasons together at Michigan Tech, Green Bay and Michigan.
"Today's game was an incredibly tough and physical contest versus one of the best defensive teams in the country," said Plitzuweit. "It was a game full of adjustments, but at the end of the day it was our ability to finish plays which helped us find a way to win. We really battled on the glass and were able to get to the line, which was the difference in the game.
"Now we have to recover and get prepared to play a very good Missouri State team in Springfield."
South Dakota (7-1) used its home-court advantage to earn a pair of victories over two teams that entered the week in the top-25 of the RPI.
Coming off a hot-shooting appearance against No. 23/22 Iowa State on Wednesday, South Dakota needed to find other scoring options against a team that led the nation in scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense last season.
South Dakota dominated Green Bay on the glass 43-22 and found the edge in drawing fouls. The Coyotes scored 25-of-30 from the line compared to 13-of-18 for the Phoenix.
The two teams rallied back-and-forth on runs throughout the match-up. A banked 3-pointer by junior forward Taylor Frederick kicked off a 10-point run at the start of the game as USD led 10-2 through the first seven minutes.
Green Bay's defense then held South Dakota scoreless in the first five minutes of the second quarter as the Phoenix took the lead 14-13. Junior guard Madison McKeever drove in to give USD the lead back and make it 17-15 near the end of the half. South Dakota led 21-19 at the break, the lowest scoring half of Coyote women's basketball to date this season.
The Coyotes started the third quarter off on a run with a 3-pointer by McKeever giving the Coyotes their biggest lead of the game at 29-19. Green Bay answered with Frankie Wurtz making a layup just before the buzzer to make it 38-33.
The Phoenix made it a one-possession game with their first basket in the fourth quarter. Green Bay remained within striking distance entering the final minute trailing 48-45. South Dakota closed out the game by making free throws down the stretch. Senior guard Allison Arens, who holds the school record for career free-throw percentage, made 9-of-10 from the line in the fourth.
Arens finished with 18 points in the game to lead South Dakota. She added seven rebounds, a pair of blocks and a steal to her stat line. McKeever was the other Coyote in double figures with 11 points.
Sophomore center Hannah Sjerven tallied a double-digit rebounding total for the second-straight game. She grabbed 11 boards and scored five points.
Green Bay leading scorer, Wurtz, was the only Phoenix player in double figures with 16 points. Jen Wellnitz added eight points, two assists and two steals for Green Bay.
South Dakota returns to the court at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a game at Missouri State in Springfield, Mo.