USD women rally for 87-83 win over SDSU

USD women rally for 87-83 win over SDSU USD Coyotes Stacy Schooley and Heather Nelson plead with an official after a technical foul was called on South Dakota because a fan threw debris on the court. USD was assessed four technical fouls because fans threw objects on the playing floor, but battled back from a deficit in the second half to win. Hard work has its rewards. It is a lesson that head coach Chad Lavin instilled in his University of South Dakota women's basketball team upon his return to USD in 1998.

On Feb. 15, the No. 17 University of South Dakota women's basketball team (20-3, 10-2) used its undomitable work ethic to overcame a nine-point deficit and picked up a hard-fought and crucial North Central Conference win over No. 2 South Dakota State (21-2, 10-2) before 7,777 at the DakotaDome.

The victory moved USD into a tie with the Jackrabbits for second place in the NCC. Both teams are 10-2 and one-half game behind No. 5 North Dakota (21-3, 11-2).

In their second straight win over SDSU at the Dome, the Coyotes got 28 points, 17 rebounds, and a game-high six assists from junior Mandy Koupal of Wagner. Koupal, who had just 4 points at halftime, responded with 24 points and 11 rebounds in the second half as she recorded her NCC-leading 14th double double.

Providing critical offensive support was a pair of seniors. Heather Nelson of Yankton had a season-high 26 points, including five-of-six from 3-point range. Nelson, also had four steals and four rebounds.

In addition, the Coyotes got a strong performance from senior Julia Frie, who had 17 points, three rebounds, two blocks and hit three-of-four from 3-point range.

In addition, Stacy Schooley, a junior from Watertown, had 11 points, five assists, two steals and two rebounds.

On the night, the Coyotes hit 28-of-56 for 50 percent from the field, including nine of 17 from 3-point range. USD was 22-of-29 from the free throw line.

Meanwhile, SDSU was 22-of-56 for 39.3 percent from the field. They hit 12-of-27 from 3-point range and 27-of-36 from the free throw line.

South Dakota scored first on a 3-pointer by Nelson at the 19:48 mark. USD extended the lead to 14-8 on a 3-pointer by Frie at the 14:30 mark of the opening half. But, in this game between in-state rivals, the lead would change 10 times.

SDSU countered USD's early surge with a 7-1 run to grab a 15-14 lead at the 10:42 mark. After the game was tied at 25-25 (6:21), SDSU outscored USD 7-0 for a 32-25 lead with 3:40 to play in the half. Then, SDSU's Stephanie Bolden knocked home a 3-pointer with 1:13 to play for a 39-30 lead.

At that critical point in the game, a pair of USD seniors stepped up. First, Frie hit a 3-pointer with 32 seconds to play to cut the deficit to 6. Then, after an SDSU turnover, Nelson hit a 3-pointer as time expired as USD cut the SDSU lead to 39-36 at the break.

In the opening half, the Coyotes hit 13 of 28 field goals for 46.4 percent, including six of 10 from the 3-point line. SDSU made nine of 25 field goals for 36 percent. They were also hot from the 3-point line, making seven of 12 for 58.3 percent. SDSU was 14-of-16 from the free throw line for 87.5 percent.

In the second half, SDSU got a freebie right away on a technical on USD (bench) for a 40-36 lead. This time, USD answered when Koupal hit a jumper to tie the game at 43-43 at the 17:16 mark. In this back and forth affair, USD broke from the tie with an 8-1 run and grabbed a 51-44 lead at the 14:03 after a jumper by freshman Renae Luecke, Sioux Falls.

The Jacks responded with a 13-3 run to tie the game at 57-57 on a lay-up by Melissa Pater. Then, SDSU took a 68-63 lead with 6:17 to play when Brenda Davis hit a pair of free throws.

South Dakota fought back to 68-64 and Schooley had two free throws coming when USD was assessed a technical foul (thrown object on the floor) for the fourth time in the game. Brenda Davis of SDSU made both free throws and the Coyotes trailed 70-64 with 5:24 to play. However, Schooley led a Coyote charge by converting the free throws and then, on consecutive possessions, recorded steals to help USD pull within 70-68. On the ensuing Coyote possession, Nelson hit again from 3-point range to give the Coyotes a 71-70 lead.

SDSU's Stacie Cizek answered with a 3-pointer for a 74-73 lead but that was the visitor's final advantage of the night. Koupal hit a pair of free throws and then converted a jumper and free throw for a 78-74 lead with 1:24 to play. USD made seven of eight free throws down the stretch and held off the nation's No. 2 team.

SDSU was led by Pater's 22 points and 11 rebounds while Cizek had 18. Brenda Davis added 14 points and freshman guard Heather Sieler had 11.

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