STARKVILLE, Miss.—South Dakota’s lone senior Allison Arens wrapped up her collegiate career Friday evening in the NCAA Tournament with a first-round loss, 79-66, to Clemson inside Humphrey Coliseum.
South Dakota (28-6) became the first Summit League team, by the league’s current name, to earn an at-large bid to the big dance. The Coyotes finished with the program’s fourth-best winning percentage in 47 years.
“I thought we played a great team in Clemson,” said Summit League Coach of the Year Dawn Plitzuweit. “I thought they fought extremely well and gave us some fits with their pressure. That kind of got us out of rhythm in the first half. When we turned over in the second half, we took care of it a little better, but they got us out of rhythm and we weren’t able to get the ball back in the basket in the third quarter and take advantage of some opportunities inside. We got some good shots during the stretch, but unfortunately those didn’t fall for us when we were playing higher on in the court.
“I give our players an awful lot of credit, certainly to be here on this stage and have an opportunity with something that’s really special. At this point in time, we give a lot of credit to our opponent Clemson, but also celebrate the season that these young ladies have had.”
Arens, the Summit League’s Defensive Player of the Year and one of two Coyotes to earn all-Summit League three times, graduates with more than 1,400 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists for her career.
“We had a great run,” Arens said. “It’s been a really special year. Honestly, today was one of those games where you don’t really even look at the score because you could walk off with your heads high and appreciate all that you got to experience this year.”
Joining Arens in double-figures was sophomore center Hannah Sjerven, who tallied her fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Clemson (20-12) was one of eight ACC teams to advance to the NCAA Tournament this year, the most of any conference. The Tigers were led by the duo of senior guards Simone Westbrook and Danielle Edwards with 27 and 25 points, respectively. Senior guard Aliyah Collier added 16 more points.
The Coyotes shot at a 50 percent clip in the first half, taking a 35-31 lead into the locker room.
South Dakota led by as many as eight points into the third quarter, but Clemson went on a 15-2 run after the Coyotes went cold. The Tigers outscored the Coyotes by 10 more points in the fourth.