Koupal scores 20 in loss to No. 5 UND It was a tale of two halves as No. 5 North Dakota (18-4, 10-4 in the NCC) regained a share of first place in the North Central Conference by holding off a game South Dakota unit, 83-77, on Feb. 9 at Hyslop Arena in Grand Forks, ND before, 3,420.
With South Dakota State's loss to Augustana earlier on Saturday, both UND and SDSU are tied for first at 10-4 in the NCC. The Coyotes remain in third place in the NCC with a 9-6 mark and 15-8 overall.
South Dakota rushed to a 15-point halftime lead and looked to gain a tie for second in the NCC, but was unable to sustain their strong offensive performance as the Sioux fought back before a raucous home crowd.
Everything the Coyotes tried in the first half seemed to work as all nine players scored for the Coyotes. South Dakota hit 20 of 33 shots in the first half for 60.6 percent, that was a season high. They also connected on six of 11 three-point baskets although they did not shoot a free throw.
Leading the way was Julia Frie with 10 points and Mandy Koupal and Heather Nelson, who each scored nine points.
For the second straight game, the Coyotes hit a three-pointer to open the scoring. Frie hit the shot at the 19:10 mark for a 3-0 lead. After UND tied the game at 6-6, the Coyotes took off on a 15-4 run to grab a 21-10 lead when Frie again scored, this time with 8:53 left on the first half clock. A three-pointer by Koupal increased the Coyotes' margin to 33-20 with 3:40 to play in the half. South Dakota kept on the offensive pressure and gained a 16-point lead when Erin Case hit a three-pointer with 3:04 to play.
The Sioux cut the lead to 44-31 when Megan Pick hit a pair of free throws with eight seconds to play. After the Coyotes' Eric Case had a three-point shot tipped, Koupal re-entered the game with less than a second to play, fed an inbound pass to Nelson, who without coming down scoring just before the buzzer sounded.
Like the Coyotes in the opening half, UND had everything go right in the final 20-minutes. While the Coyotes seemed to win the battle for loose balls in the first half, it was UND that won the loose ball battles in the second half.
Using tight aggressive defense, North Dakota charged back in the second half as they opened with a 20-7 run to pull within 53-51 at the 11:09 mark when Becky Moen scored on a jumper. South Dakota regained a 58-51 lead with 10:22 to play when Koupal hit a pair of free throws.
But the momentum had changed uniforms in this game. The Sioux pulled ahead at 62-60 when Moen hit a three-point shot with 7:05 to play. Still, the Coyotes fought back against the Sioux as Orsack hit a three-pointer with 5:50 to play, which gave South Dakota a 65-64 lead. Then, the Sioux took off on a 10-0 run to grab a 74-65 lead with 3:49 to play as Boll, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds, scored inside.
South Dakota closed to within four twice in the final minute as Stacy Schooley hit a long three-pointer to pull the Coyotes within 78-74 with :46 seconds left and Orsack also connected from long distance to slice the lead to 81-77 with :13 seconds to play. However, the Sioux hit seven of eight free throws in the final minute to hold off South Dakota.
While the Coyotes were hot in the opening half, the Sioux had the hot hand in the second half of play. They made 19 of 32 field goals for 59.4 percent, including three of six three-pointers and 11 of 14 free throws.
In the second half, South Dakota hit just eight of 24 field goals and just three of nine from three-point range, which allowed the Sioux to make a comeback. USD hit 12 of 13 free throws after the break for 92.3 percent. For the game, the Coyotes hit 28 of 57 field goals for 49.1 percent and nine of 20 three-pointers for 45 percent.
Koupal, a sophomore forward, scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds with three assists to lead South Dakota. Nelson had 14 points and Frie had 10 for the Coyotes.
Orsack had nine points, all three-pointers. She now has 114 three-point field goals in her career at South Dakota. For the game, UND made 32 of 59 field goals for 54.2 percent.
The Sioux hit three of 15 three-pointers, with all three coming from Becky Moen, who had a game high 36 points. The Sioux hit 16 of 22 free throws for 72.8 percent and they won the rebound battle, 31-30.
Next up for the Coyotes is Morningside next Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the DakotaDome. The Coyotes close the season with three straight home games with the Mustangs the first on the agenda. The following weekend, USD hosts St. Cloud State and Minnesota State-Mankato at the Dome. Gametime against the Minnesota schools is also set for 6 p.m. at the Dome.