Northern Colorado drops 77-69 to Coyote women

Northern Colorado drops 77-69 to Coyote women The University of South Dakota women's basketball team scored a 77-69 North Central Conference win over the University of Northern Colorado Friday night in the DakotaDome.

After losing a pair of games on the road last week, USD returned to the DakotaDome and used a second half rally to turn back Northern Colorado. USD improved their home record to 5-1 on the season.

The Coyotes trailed for a good share of the game but rallied past the visitors behind the solid play of seniors Kelly Koepp and Kelly Gese to win their second NCC game in five tries.

Koepp scored 21 points on seven of eight shooting from the field and seven of 11 free throws. She also had three steals in her best game of the season. Gese, a senior point guard, had 18 points, seven assists and three rebounds for USD. Gese moved into 11th place on the all-time scoring chart with 1,096 points.

Things started brightly for the Coyotes as Gese hit two free throws and the Coyotes grabbed a 2-0 lead at 18:55 of the opening half. It was their last lead until the final minutes of the game.

Northern Colorado used the inside presence of Missy Borell to take back the lead and hold it throughout the half. A jumper by Borell tied it at 2-2 and a few minutes later, a layup by Borell gave the Bears a 9-2 lead.

USD junior Alissa Koronkiewicz scored a layup to pull USD within 12-7. A 3-pointer by Heather Nelson drew USD to 14-10 at the 12:11 mark. Borell, who had 8 points and 10 rebounds in a dominating first half, scored a layup for an 18-14 lead.

The Bears continued to build on the lead moving ahead 23-14 on a field goal by Lisa Gangel. USD outscored Northern Colorado 15-9 to close the half and draw within 32-29. Amanda Iverson scored 4 points in the key run.

Northern Colorado jumped out to a quick second half start, scoring the first 9 points of the half and grabbing a 41-29 lead at 17:10. From that point on, USD fought back into the game.

A layup and two free throws by Koepp moved the Coyotes within 41-35. Later, Iverson hit a layup to bring USD within 43-40.

The Bears fired back immediately as two free throws by Lindsey Ruff gave the Bears a 48-40 lead. Still, the Coyotes continued to stay close. Two free throws by Koepp moved the Coyotes to within 50-45. Two free throws by Iverson and a layup by Koepp made the score 50-49 at the 8:55 mark.

But again the Bears denied the Coyotes the lead. The Bears scored 5 straight points for a 55-49 lead. But the Coyotes continued to play solid defense. A 10-4 run by USD, keyed by Koepp's inside play, drew the Coyotes even with the Bears at 61-61.

After the Bears scored 4 straight points to make the score 65-61, the game turned in USD's favor. The Coyotes outscored the Bears 16-4 down the stretch, converting several crucial free throws in the final minute to earn the victory.

USD gained their first lead since the opening minutes of the game when Koepp scored inside for a 68-66 lead at the 1:21 mark. Two free throws by Gese gave the Coyotes a 72-68 lead with 38 seconds to play in the game. Four more free throws by Gese in the final 11 seconds of the game gave the Coyotes their final margin of victory at 77-69.

Iverson added 13 points and five rebounds for the Coyotes. Nelson had 10 points and eight rebounds. The Coyotes recorded eight steals and five blocked shots. Julie Bentson, who had 17 points, led the Bears while Borell had 14 points and 16 rebounds. Mel Sauter added 13 points.

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