SIOUX FALLS – The road to the Summit League women’s basketball tournament championship continues to go through South Dakota State.
South Dakota State stymied South Dakota 65-50 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center here Tuesday, capturing its eighth Summit League tournament title in the last 10 years. With it comes an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The Jackrabbits avenged two regular season losses to Summit League regular season champ South Dakota and snapped the Coyotes’ 20-game win streak.
Junior standout Macy Miller recorded a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds as SDSU (26-6) led from start to finish. If USD (26-6) doesn’t earn an at-large NCAA Tournament berth – and that’s not likely to happen – the Coyotes are an automatic qualifier for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
“I am incredibly proud of these young ladies even though it stings and it hurts,” USD Coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “What our team has done this season is nothing short of impressive and I think they have really battled and proven that they can compete at a very high level. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to play again and build on that.”
Several factors contributed to the Coyotes’ first loss since Dec. 19. USD simply couldn’t get the ball to go into the basket, especially from long range, making just 6 of 30 3-pointers for a season-low 20 percent. SDSU also held a 36-16 scoring advantage in the paint and shot 53 percent from the field compared to 28 percent (15-for-53) for the Coyotes.
South Dakota State jumped to an 11-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Although the Coyotes ended the first quarter on a 9-4 run, they trailed 15-9 at the break and the Jacks tallied six quick points to start the second quarter, taking a 21-9 advantage.
Kate Liveringhouse scored five straight points and Madison McKeever’s steal and layup trimmed the lead to 23-18. SDSU, though, outscored the Coyotes 10-2 the rest of the half, taking a 33-20 lead at intermission.
The Jackrabbits shot 65 percent from the field in the first half, while USD was a chilly 6-for-28 for 21 percent.
The lead grew to 17 points in the third quarter before another USD run cut it to seven. But it was a 49-40 SDSU lead after three quarters and that’s as close as the Coyotes came the rest of the game.
All-tournament selection Ciara Duffy was the lone South Dakota player in double figures with 12 points. It marked the first time since a loss to Tennessee in November that only one Coyote reached double figures. Duffy, a sophomore, also grabbed six rebounds, handed out three assists and blocked two shots.
Liveringhouse, a senior, was also named to the all-tournament team. She scored a team-high 19 points in a semifinal win over Oral Roberts and average 10.3 points for the tournament.
SDSU’s Miller was tabbed MVP of the tournament, while teammates Madison Guebert and Ellie Thompson made the all-tournament team.
South Dakota finished 14-0 in the Summit League, becoming the first to put together an unbeaten slate in league play since the 1993-94 season.