Defense key to Coyotes’ win Thursday

Defense key to Coyotes' win Thursday In South Dakota women's head basketball coach Chad Lavin's basketball world, the name of the game is defense. Evidence? In each of the last four games, his No. 17 South Dakota women's basketball team has held opponents to 50 points or less, all wins.

On Feb. 13, the Coyotes (19-3, 9-2) recorded a 72-50 North Central Conference win over Minnesota State-Mankato (7-16, 1-11) at the DakotaDome. The win helped South Dakota remain in third place in the NCC with a 9-2 record.

Complimenting the defensive effort on Thursday was a solid effort shooting from 3-point range. South Dakota hit 10 of 21 for 47.6 percent. Renae Luecke, a freshman from Sioux Falls, hit four of five from long distance and had a team-high 18 points.

She tied Heather Nelson for the team lead in 3-pointers with 53 this season.

For the 13th time this season, junior forward Mandy Koupal of Wagner had a double double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Senior forward Heather Nelson of Yankton also reached double figures with 12 points while junior guard Erin Bourne of Mankato, MN, added 10. Overall, South Dakota made 24 of 55 shots from the field for 43.6 percent. USD also made 14 of 16 free throws for 87.5 percent.

With the hot 3-point shooting, USD set a school record for made 3-pointers as a team, set by the 2001-02 squad which had 189. The Coyotes broke the mark when Amanda Iverson, a senior from Vermillion, hit her first 3-pointer of the season at the 14:04 mark of the first half. By the end of the game, USD had pushed the record to 196 for a season.

The Coyotes grabbed a 42-22 halftime lead behind eight 3-pointers in the opening half. USD was 14 of 29 from the field for 48.3 percent. The Coyotes made all six of their free throws.

The Coyotes jumped to a 15-8 lead (14:04) and then outscored the visitors 27-7 in the final 14 minutes of the opening half.

Luecke hit four-of-four from 3-point range and totaled 14 points to lead the Coyotes in the first half. Koupal had 7 points and six rebounds.

Early in the second half, the visitors made a run at the Coyotes, cutting the lead to 44-32 on a jumper by Kristin Volk at the 14:34 mark. A lay-up by junior Stacy Schooley, Watertown, extended the lead to 53-37. The Mavericks cut the lead to 13 (53-40) at the 9:13 but could not get any closer. A jumper by Koupal gave USD a 61-40 lead at the 6:57 mark. The lead never fell less than 18 points the rest of the way. Two foul shots by Bourne gave USD a 72-49 lead with 1:20 to play.

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