South Dakota women turn back USF

South Dakota women turn back USF University of South Dakota Coyotes Amanda Iverson and Jodi Schroeder watch with concern as the University of South Dakota Coyotes chipped away at the Coyotes' lead Dec. 29 in the DakotaDome. Sioux Falls closed to 68-65 in the final minute, but USD held on to defeat the Cougars 71-65. Led by junior forward Mandy Koupal's 25 points and 13 rebounds, the South Dakota women's basketball team (10-1) turned back the University of Sioux Falls (5-5), 71-65 Sunday afternoon at the DakotaDome.

With the win, USD ended its nonconference season and began its North Central Conference season Jan. 2 against North Dakota.

Koupal, Wagner, recorded her seventh double double of the season as she made 10 of 22 field goals and five of seven free throws. She also had six assists, three blocks and a steal. For the 10th time this season, Koupal recorded more than 20 points. In addition, the all-American had her 39th straight double figure scoring game at South Dakota.

South Dakota also received 19 points from senior forward Heather Nelson, Yankton. With two 3 pointers on Sunday, Nelson has moved into second place on the all-time 3 point chart at South Dakota. She has 135 3 pointers in her career.

South Dakota hit 27 of 67 field goals for 40.3 percent. However, USD hit just five of 24 3 point field goals for 20.8 percent. The Coyotes made 12 of 15 free throws.

Sioux Falls, which closed to 68-65 in the final minute, received 15 points from Jill Austin, who had 12 rebounds. Krista Orsack added 15 points and Courtney Farrell had 10 points. Sioux Falls made 19 of 55 field goals for 34.5 percent. They made five of 15 3 point field goals and 22 of 27 from the foul line. The Cougars outrebounded South Dakota, 44-38.

Nelson hit six of 10 field goals, including two of three from 3 point range, to lead South Dakota to a 37-30 halftime lead lead.

Sioux Falls jumped to a 6-2 lead after Stephanie Austin and Kristin Kono both connected from 3 point range. A basket by Nelson tied the game at 10-10 with 12:15 to play. Later, Koupal, who did not score until the 6:50 mark of the first half, scored 6 points in a two minute span to give USD a 28-20 lead with 5:04 to play. A 3 pointer by Nelson moved USD's lead to 37-28 with one minute to play in the first half.

In the opening 20 minutes, Koupal had 10 points and seven rebounds. She has now scored double figures in 39 straight games at South Dakota.

In the first half, South Dakota hit 16 of 36 field goals for 44.4 percent, including three of 12 from 3 point range for 25 percent. The Coyotes hit both of their free throws. Sioux Falls hit seven of 25 field goals for 28 percent and they were four of seven from 3 point range.

The Cougars hit 12-12 from the free throw line. They were led by former Coyote Kristie Orsack, who had 10 points, including a pair of 3 point baskets.

A lay-up by Kono cut the USD lead to 37-35 at the 18:27 mark. USD answered with a 3 pointer from freshman guard Renae Luecke, Sioux Falls, for a 42-35 lead at the 16:49 mark. Later, Sioux Falls pulled within 3 points (46-43) after Breanne Willmeth scored on a lay-up.

USD answered with a 15-5 run to take a 61-48 lead with 6:51 to play. Then, Sioux Falls made it interesting. They cut the lead to 68-62 on a lay-up by Farrell with 1:46 to play. After a missed shot, Orsack connected from 3 point range to cut the lead to 68-65 with 1:18 to play.

However, USD made three of four free throws and the Cougars did not score as USD held off Sioux Falls.

South Dakota hosted North Dakota on Jan. 2 in their NCC home season opener. USD will also host St. Cloud State on Saturday, Jan. 4. The game will begin at 6 p.m. at the DakotaDome.

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