SIOUX FALLS, S.D.–South Dakota senior center Kate Liveringhouse scored 19 points to lead South Dakota to a 65-53 semifinal victory over Oral Roberts on Monday afternoon inside the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
South Dakota (26-5) advances to its fifth Summit League Tournament Championship game in six years. The Coyotes improve to 11-4 all-time in tournament history and extend their league record winning streak to 20 games.
Although Oral Roberts (17-13) led for only 22 seconds of the game, the Golden Eagles never seemed to fade out of contention. Compared to a quarterfinal where the Coyotes led by 32 at the halftime horn, Oral Roberts was within one possession near the end of the third quarter.
Liveringhouse reached 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor with four 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Madison McKeever added 15 points while freshman guard Chloe Lamb posted her second double-figure game of the tournament with 11. Lamb also grabbed five rebounds and dished out a team-high four assists in 32 minutes.
Junior guard Allison Arens finished one point shy of a double-double with nine points and a season high 12 rebounds. She also dished out two assists and had a pair of steals.
"One of the things that makes this a special group is that there were matchups today that maybe favored some of our players more than others," said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. "Chloe Lamb played a lot more than she has in some other games. This group of young ladies, whether they are on the bench, whether they are on the court, they are cheering on their teammates and really give us some great effort to put us in a position to be successful."
Oral Roberts was led by freshman guard Maya Mayberry's 17 points and was the only Golden Eagle in double figures. ORU forward Maria Martianez and guard KeniJo Lippe came off the bench for eight points apiece. ORU leading scorer Faith Ihim was held to six points, although she grabbed a team-high nine rebounds with three offensive boards.
As expected in a match-up between the league's top-two defenses, the game saw plenty of physicality on both ends of the court. Neither team saw extended runs throughout. ORU's Jordan Gilbert knocked down a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining in the first quarter to shorten the Coyote lead to one, 17-16.
The Coyotes used a nine-point run and held the Golden Eagles scoreless for five minutes in the second quarter to jump out to a 29-19 lead. After the media timeout, Martianez hit three mid-range jumpers during a 10-3 run for the Golden Eagles to close the gap back to three. Liveringhouse hit her third triple of the game during ORU's run. Arens capped off the half with a layup that put USD up 36-31.
South Dakota tallied the first five points of the third quarter, but a seven-minute scoring drought allowed Oral Roberts to climb back within two. Liveringhouse hit another 3-pointer with 1:13 remaining followed by a pair of free throws to extend USD's lead to 46-39. Monica Arens scored a buzzer beater from downtown that put South Dakota up 49-41 entering the final quarter.
Allison Arens converted a 3-point play to begin the fourth, scoring five of her nine points in the fourth period. USD outscored the Golden Eagles by four in the fourth quarter to win the game 65-53.
South Dakota shot 40.4 percent (21-52) from the floor and 42.1 percent (8-19) from outside the arc. Oral Roberts made 38.2 percent (21-55) from the field while hitting 31.3 percent (5-16) from downtown.
Statistically, both teams were relatively even. Both grabbed 33 rebounds. USD and ORU each scored 26 points in the paint. The Coyotes edged the Golden Eagles 12-10 in points off turnovers.
The Coyotes gained a nine-point advantage from the free-throw line, knocking down 15-of-16 from the stripe. The Golden Eagles were 6-of-7 from the line.
"It feels awesome being back in the championship game," said Liveringhouse. "This is my third time there and I am really excited to be playing in it as a senior. It means a lot."
South Dakota looks to complete the sweep of the Summit League regular season and tournament titles for the first time in program history. The Coyotes face the winner of second-seeded South Dakota State and third-seeded Western Illinois at 1 p.m. Tuesday. The game will be televised live on ESPNU.