DES MOINES, Iowa—Drake shot 52.8 percent from the floor and knocked down 10 3-pointers to defeat South Dakota 76-64 in its home opener Thursday night in front of 5,511 fans inside the Knapp Center.
The game was a battle between two of the nation’s top mid-majors. Drake (3-0) is the Missouri Valley Conference defending champion with the Bulldogs running through the league undefeated for the second-straight season. South Dakota (2-1) is the Summit League defending regular season champion and became the first Summit team to finish undefeated in 24 years.
“Today was a tough loss to a very good Drake team in a tough environment in their home opener,” said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “We have a lot to learn and we are anxious to get back to work and continue to improve in all facets as a team.
“We hope to see our fans fill the Sanford Coyote Sports Center on Sunday and also hope they make plans to see us on Wednesday in Sioux Falls.”
Five Bulldogs reached double figures led by junior guard Becca Hittner’s 17 points. Seniors Nicole Miller and Sara Rhine added 12 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench. Senior Sammie Bachrodt and sophomore Maddie Monahan pitched in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Coyotes were led in scoring by junior forward Taylor Frederick and redshirt-sophomore Hannah Sjerven with 15 and 12 points, respectively. Junior guard Madison McKeever also reached double figures with 10 points for the third-straight game.
Frederick also led the Coyotes in rebounding with eight boards. Sjerven was nearly perfect from the field on 6-of-7 shooting. She had a pair of blocks and steals.
The Bulldogs, who outscored their first two opponents by 20 points in the second quarter, went on a run against the Coyotes in the same period. Drake led 35-20 just above the five minute mark, but the Coyotes responded with a 14-5 run of their own. McKeever drilled a deep 3-pointer just ahead of the buzzer to make it a six-point game at the half.
Sophomore Chloe Lamb scored seven of her nine points in the first two minutes of the third period to close the Bulldogs lead down to 42-41.
Towards the end of the third and into the start of the fourth, Drake went on an 18-6 run to draw the lead back out to 63-49. The teams traded baskets for the final eight minutes as the Bulldogs came away with a 76-64 victory.
Drake made 28-of-53 (52.8 percent) from the floor and 10-of-25 (40 percent) from outside the arc. The Coyotes finished at 38.2 percent (29-76) from the field while only making 4-of-26 (15.4 percent) from downtown.
The Coyotes return to the Sanford Coyote Sports Center for a game at 1 p.m. Sunday with the College of St. Mary. The team remains in-state to play a neutral court game with Wichita State at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.