VERMILLION, S.D.—South Dakota clinched a top-two seed in the Summit League Tournament with its 73-58 win over Denver on Thursday evening inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
No. 23 South Dakota (24-3, 12-1 Summit) extended its win streak to 11 games. Denver (14-12, 7-6) falls a half-game behind Oral Roberts and a full game behind Western Illinois for fifth in the Summit League standings.
The Coyote defense held the 11th-highest scoring offense in the nation to 22 points beneath its average. The Pioneers are also the nation’s 11th-best 3-point shooting team in the country and the Coyotes held them to 7-of-25 (28 percent) beyond the arc. It was a drastic turnaround from the first meeting in the Mile High City, when Denver shot lights out at 62.5 percent and put up 104 points.
South Dakota was led in scoring by junior guard Ciara Duffy’s 16 points with four triples. She added five assists and five rebounds.
Sophomore center Hannah Sjerven was just shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. She also had a pair of blocks, pair of steals and pair of assists on her stat line.
Sophomore guard Monica Arens knocked down a career best four 3-pointers, all in the first half, to finish with 12 points. She had four rebounds and a pair of steals. A notable moment on the night was older sister, Allison Arens, moving into 10th on USD’s career scoring charts with 1,305 points. She had eight points and six rebounds on the night.
The balanced effort continued with Madison McKeever contributing nine points and four assists, while junior forward Taylor Frederick had eight points and six boards.
Denver also put three players in double figures with senior guard Samantha Romanowski scoring 12 points with five assists. Junior forward Madison Nelson had 11 points and junior guard Lauren Loven finished with 10.
South Dakota shot 49.1 percent (28-of-57) from the floor and 43.5 percent (10-of-23) from downtown. Duffy and Arens paced the Coyotes outside the arc with four triples each.
The Coyotes also outscored the Pioneers 20-9 in points-off turnovers and had 12 fast break points.
The Coyotes head north to Brookings, South Dakota, for a rivalry showdown with South Dakota State at 1 p.m. Sunday inside Frost Arena.