USD women's basketball starts conference play with win

FARGO, N.D.—South Dakota ran away with a 67-41 win over North Dakota State to open Summit League play on Sunday afternoon inside the Scheels Center. Minnesota natives Hannah Sjerven and Madison McKeever tallied 15 and 13 points, respectively, to pace South Dakota in front of a strong showing of Coyote fans from their nearby hometowns.

South Dakota (13-2, 1-0 Summit) won its fifth-straight Summit League opener, kicking off conference play following the most successful nonconference season since the move to NCAA Division I.

"We did not start today's game with the urgency that we are capable of, but our young ladies made a quick adjustment and that was good to see coming off of a long layover since our last game," said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. "Our ability to defend and finish possessions with a rebound allowed us to get some separation and then our runs in the second and third quarter were huge today.

"We now get ready to go to Denver, who is playing some really good basketball right now. So we need to get recovered and prepped quickly to face a very good team."

North Dakota State (4-10, 1-1 Summit) may have scored the first seven points of the game, but the Coyotes answered with a 15-0 run and never looked back.

Junior forward Taylor Frederick scored six-straight points to kick off a 16-4 run by South Dakota midway through the second quarter. Frederick finished as the third Coyote in double figures with 11 points.

The Coyotes held North Dakota State to one field goal in the third quarter, with South Dakota scoring the final nine points in the period to kick off a 19-2 run that put USD up by 35 points, 67-32, with four minutes remaining.

The Coyotes shot at a 44.3 percent clip (27-of-61) for the game, while making 53.8 percent (7-of-13) from downtown. The Bison were held to 28 percent (14-of-50) from the field and made just three of their 15 3-point attempts.

In addition to the edge on shooting, South Dakota outrebounded North Dakota State 45 to 26. The Coyotes scored 12 second-chance points on 13 offensive boards.

South Dakota featured a balanced offense led by the trio of Sjerven, McKeever and Frederick in double figures. Sjerven was 7-of-13 from the floor for 15 points and grabbed five rebounds. McKeever tied her career high of eight boards to go with her 13 points, two assists and steal. Frederick was 4-of-9 from the floor for 11 points with four rebounds.

Junior guard Ciara Dufy added nine points, four assists and three rebounds. Sophomore guard Monica Arens knocked down a pair of threes for eight points, four rebounds and two assists.

The Coyotes tallied 18 assists on 27 made field-goals, the most assists by USD in the last 10 games. Sophomore guard Liv Korngable led the way with six assists. While she only took two shots in the game, senior guard Allison Arens grabbed six boards, dished out four assists and blocked a shot.

North Dakota State was led by sophomore forward Emily Dietz as the only Bison in double figures with 12 points.

The Coyotes wrap up their month-long road trip on Thursday at Denver. South Dakota returns home to host South Dakota State on Jan. 6. The South Dakota Showdown Series contest is a doubleheader, the first with SDSU in the Division I era.