Nelson leads Coyote women to 70-47 win

Nelson leads Coyote women to 70-47 win For the second straight game, a strong performance by senior forward Heather Nelson helped the No. 17 South Dakota women's basketball team to an important North Central Conference win. The Coyotes improved their record to 18-3 and 8-2 in the NCC with a 70-47 win over Northern Colorado (10-11, 3-7) on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the DakotaDome.

With the win, USD kept pace with the NCC leaders and remain one game behind SDSU in the conference standings.

Nelson, who scored 18 points on Feb. 6 in a win over Nebraska-Omaha, scored 21 points against the Bears. She tied a career-high with six 3-pointers and was seven of 17 from the field. She made the six 3-pointers on 13 attempts. Nelson of Yankton, also had four rebounds, three steals, two blocks and an assist. In the last two games, Nelson has hit 11 3-pointers and now has a team-high 56 3-pointers this season, which is the sixth best seasonal total in school history.

Junior forward Mandy Koupal of Wagner, added 21 points and 13 rebounds. It was her NCC-leading 12th double double of the season. She hit seven of 14 field goals and six of seven from the foul line. Koupal passed another milestone, breaking into the 1,000-point, 500-rebound club. She now has 1,055 points and 508 career rebounds. She is the ninth player in school history to reach that milestone.

For the eighth time this season, USD, who leads the NCC in scoring defense, held an opponent under 50 points.

South Dakota never trailed in the game as Nelson hit a 3-pointer to give USD a 5-2 lead at the 18:35 mark. A 3-pointer by freshman Renae Luecke at the 14:00 mark provided the Coyotes with a 15-5 lead. Then, USD took control of the game, outscoring the visitors, 23-7, over the next 12 minutes for a 38-12 lead with 2:42 to play in the half.

Koupal had 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead USD in the opening half. Nelson had 12 points as USD hit 15 of 31 field goals for 48.4 percent. The Coyotes hit eight of 17 3-pointers for 47.1 percent and four of six from the foul line. UNC hit just seven of 26 field goals for 26.9 percent and they made just two of six from 3-point range for 33.3 percent. The Bears made three of four free throws.

Down 42-19 at halftime, the Bears had more success offensively in the second half but could not cut into the lead. Both teams scored 28 points in the second 20 minutes.

USD led 48-21 when Julie Frie, Byron, MN, who had 8 points, hit a 3-pointer at the 18:53 mark. Another 3-pointer by Nelson gave the Coyotes their largest lead at 64-31 with 7:00 minutes to play.

Overall, USD hit 25 of 54 field goals for 48.4 percent, including 13 of 31 3-point field goals for 41.9 percent. The Coyotes converted seven of nine free throws. Luecke had two 3-pointers which gives her 49 this season which is the seventh best seasonal total in school history.

UNC, led by Lindy Kirkland's 17 points, hit 19 of 54 from the field for 35.2 percent. They were five of 13 from 3-point line for 38.5 percent.

The Bears hit just four of 10 from the foul line. Missy Borell recorded a double double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

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