Yanez leads South Dakota women’s basketball team

Yanez leads South Dakota women's basketball team
Forward Vanessa Yanez tied a career-high with 23 points and led the South Dakota women's basketball team (13-6, 1-3 NCC) to a 70-66 upset win Jan. 21 over 20th-ranked Minnesota-Duluth (16-4, 3-2 NCC) in North Central Conference action at the DakotaDome.

The Coyotes defeated UMD for the second straight time, including a 77-69 win over the Bulldogs in the conference tournament last spring.

Yanez, a junior forward from Wagner, hit 8-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-6 three-pointers to lead the Coyotes to its' first NCC win of the season. She also made three free throws and had two blocked shots. Two other USD players scored in double figures, including senior guard Brittany Bessert of Fort Collins, CO, who had 11 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Bessert hit 7-of-11 free throws, including several crucial foul shots in the final minute of play. Meghan Woster, a senior from Sioux Falls, provided 14 points and nine assists. With her assist total today, Woster pushed her career total to 490, which ranks her third all-time at USD.

South Dakota, who played without freshman standout Bridget Yoerger, also received eight points, nine rebounds and three steals from sophomore forward Ashley Robinette of South Sioux City, NE. Sophomore forward Janielle Bryan of Bellevue, NE, provided a spark off to bench by scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field.

Minnesota-Duluth, who played without the services of All-American forward Lindsey Dietz, received 22 points and seven rebounds from Katie Winkelman. In addition, Kim Wagers scored 12 points while Justine Axtell had eight points and eight rebounds. Alissa Paully provided 10 points for UMD.

South Dakota had a solid shooting night, which was crucial to the Coyotes success against UMD. The Coyotes made 52.2 percent from the field, hitting on 24-of-46 field goals. USD also made 7-of-15 three point field goals for 46.7 percent and knocked down 15-of-20 free throws for 75 percent. Meanwhile, UMD hit 27-of-58 field goals for 46.6 percent, including 7-of-16 three-point shots. UMD struggled at the foul line, making just 5-of-13 charity tosses. UMD won the rebound battle, 32-30.

In a game in which the lead exchanged 15 times, the visiting Bulldogs grabbed a quick 5-0 lead at the 18:32 mark after Winkelman scored inside. The Coyotes responded with a 6-0 run as Robinette's two free throws at the 15:50 mark provided USD with its first lead of the game. Yanez hit a three-pointer that gave USD a 15-14 lead at the 8:40 mark. Later, USD moved its advantage to 21-18 (5:37) after Bessert hit a free throw. After UMD tied the game (21-21) at the 4:21 mark, USD used an 8-0 to take a 29-21 lead with 1:42 to play in the first half. UMD answered with the final two baskets of the half as USD led, 29-25, at the break.

The Coyotes, which improved to 11-2 this season when leading at half, had to rally in the second half for the win. UMD gradually cut into the Coyotes' advantage and eventually took a 43-39 lead at the 12:05 mark. But, Yanez continually came up with big shots to keep the Coyotes close to UMD. Yanez hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 49-49 at the 8:52 mark. The lead exchanged hands three times before a lay-up by Woster gave USD a 58-56 lead with 4:59 to play in the game. USD built the lead to 64-57 on three foul shots by Yanez at the 2:54 mark. UMD cut the lead to four points on several occasions and was within three-points (69-66) with eight seconds to play. Bessert hit a free throw with five seconds left to seal the Coyotes' win.

Key for South Dakota was its ability to score inside against the bigger Bulldogs. UMD only outscored USD, 30-28, in the paint.

The Coyotes will host Minnesota State, Mankato in NCC basketball at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Dome.

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