BOSTON, Mass.—South Dakota used a 13-point run in the final three minutes of the game to defeat Northeastern 80-76 in front of 818 screaming elementary students in Tuesday’s season opener inside the Cabot Center.
The Coyotes (1-0) improve to 35-14 all-time in season openers, starting the season on the road for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons.
“We showed a great resilience today,” said South Dakota head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “We are so proud of how our team continued to fight for 40 minutes and how we found a way to be successful against a very god opponent in a very challenging environment.”
Senior guard Ciara Duffy paced all five starters in double-figures with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting. She added five rebounds and five assists to her stat line. Junior Monica Arens made her first career start with 16 points and three steals.
Senior guard Madison McKeever’s stat line included 13 points, six boards and three steals. Junior guard Chloe Lamb had 11 points and five boards. Junior center Hannah Sjerven nearly tallied a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
South Dakota made the first basket of the game, holding onto the lead until the final minute of the third quarter. Northeastern (0-1) and the students from Boston School Day never allowed the Coyotes to get comfortable.
The Huskies’ starting forward Alexis Hill took the game into her hands midway through the fourth quarter, scoring seven points in less than two minutes to put the Huskies up by six. A pair of triples by Husky guard Kendall Currence, with a basket from Sjerven sandwiched in between, gave Northeastern a 72-62 lead with three minutes left.
Plitzuweit called a timeout to regather the Coyotes, who came out scoring points in a hurry. Duffy knocked down a triple out of the timeout to kick off 13 unanswered points. Arens’ converted a 3-point play after stealing a pass in the frontcourt. Arens had a second steal-and-score 30 seconds later to close the Huskies lead to 72-70. Lamb came up clutch for the Coyotes by drilling the triple with less than a minute left to give the Coyotes a 73-72 advantage.
Drama continued to unfold down the stretch with a big-time block by Sjerven in the final 30 seconds and 7-of-8 made free throws in the final minute.
Northeastern was paced by Currence’s 19 points, with five 3-pointers in the game. Hill added 15 points, four steals and three blocks. Also scoring in double-figures for the Huskies were Stella Clark with 13 points and Mide Oriyomi with 10. The Huskies capitalized with 24 points off 20 Coyote turnovers.
The Coyotes shot 51.9 percent (27-of-52) from the field while the Huskies made 30-of-59 (50.8 percent). The Huskies also knocked down 10 triples in the game.
South Dakota returns to action at Green Bay at 1 p.m. Saturday in Wisconsin.