Koupal leads South Dakota to 77-63 victory

Koupal leads South Dakota to 77-63 victory Led by season highs of 34 points and 19 rebounds by senior All-American Mandy Koupal, the No. 15 South Dakota Coyotes women's basketball team (18-5, 3-4 NCC) turned back a game Nebraska-Omaha squad (4-15, 0-7 NCC), 77-63, in North Central Conference action on Saturday at the DakotaDome.

Koupal, a senior from Wagner, made 10-of-20 field goals, including two 3-point baskets, while also converting 12-of-12 from the foul line. In addition, Koupal had a blocked shot and three steals in 37 minutes of action. Her previous highs were 33 points and 18 rebounds this season. This was Koupal's 14th double double of the season and 49th in her career.

With the win, USD improved to 9-1 at home and now has won 20 of its last 21 home NCC games.

Joining her in double figures was sophomore guard Meghan Woster �(Sioux Falls) with 14 points and Stacy Schooley (Watertown) who had 12 points. Schooley tied a season high with seven steals, while also securing five rebounds and handing out four assists with a blocked shot.

South Dakota jumped to a quick 5-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Woster with 19:19 to play but UNO responded as they would all night. UNO scored the next nine points of the game for a 9-5 lead with 16:35 to play in the first half. USD did not regain the lead until Woster added another 3-pointer with 12:17 to play as USD led 17-16. The Coyotes pushed the advantage to 29-21 with 7:56 to play on a jumper by Koupal.

A 3-pointer by redshirt freshman Vanessa Yanez (Wagner) provided USD with a 32-23 lead with 6:41 left on the first-half clock.

The Coyotes added to the lead when Koupal connected from 3-point range for a 37-26 lead with 4:32 to play in the opening half. UNO outscored the Coyotes, 6-2, over the remainder of the half to draw with 39-32. By halftime, Koupal had 18 points and seven rebounds.

After USD upped its lead to 41-33 at the 18:27 mark (Woster lay-up), UNO began its comeback. A jumper by Leslie Ross pulled the Mavericks within 41-40 with 15:39 to play. USD responded by a 10-4 run to move the lead to 51-44 with 10:55 left in the game. Once against the visitors rallied. A lay-up by Lindsey Petersen drew UNO within 58-53 with 8:19 to play.

South Dakota fought off the charge and moved its lead back to 9 points at 64-55 when Koupal scored inside. Then UNO again fought back, pulling within 66-62 with 2:11 on the clock. However, a 3-point field goal by Kayla Jacobs (Watertown) with 1:47 gave USD breathing room as USD made eight straight free throws in the final two minutes to hold off UNO.

The Coyotes struggled from the field, making just 36.9 percent on 24-of-65 shooting. USD was just 9-of-32 from 3-point range for 28.1 percent. However, USD made 20-of-24 free throws for 83.3 percent.

UNO was led in scoring by Sara Myers, who had 18 points and Lindsey Petersen who added 15. Leslie Ross contributed 11 points. The Mavericks hit 44.2 percent from the field on 23-of-52 shooting. UNO made 3-of-10 from three point range and 14-of-17 for 83.3 percent from the free throw line. UNO won the rebound battle, 37-36.

With 34 points Koupal continues to build on her career scoring lead at South Dakota with 1,883 points. The senior forward has scored 547 points this season.

In addition, Koupal has scored 2,237 points in her collegiate career. Seventeen times in her career, she has scored 30 points or more. Tonight, she recorded her 14th double double of the season and 49th of her career.

Next for the Coyotes is a return engagement at Omaha, NE, with Nebraska-Omaha on Feb. 7.

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