17th-ranked USD women pick up first NCC win

17th-ranked USD women pick up first NCC win
The 17th-ranked South Dakota Women's Basketball Team (14-3, 1-2 NCC) opened the second half with an 18-2 run in a 70-55 North Central Conference win over Nebraska-Omaha (12-5, 0-3 NCC) on Jan. 25 at Sapp Fieldhouse in Omaha, NE.

South Dakota ended a two-game losing streak to open the NCC season. In addition, the Coyotes stopped a five-game losing streak to Nebraska-Omaha. The Coyotes also improved to 13-1 when scoring at least 70 points in a game. South Dakota, the league's second stingiest defensive squad, held ninth opponent to under 60 points.

With the game deadlocked at 36-36 at halftime, USD opened the second stanza on an 18-2 run and cruised to its 14th win in 17 games this season. After two heart-breaking home losses, USD rebounded with its first win in three conference decisions.

"This was a nice win for the team," said South Dakota head coach Chad Lavin, who coached his 700th career game, improving to 407-293 in his career. "We were probably lacking in a little confidence (coming into the game), which showed in the first half. Then we started making some plays in the second half. Perhaps most impressive was our defensive effort in the second half. I mean, holding a team with Karen Thies, (Ashley) Freerkson and (Alyssa) Green to just 19 points in a half is a wonderful effort," said Lavin.

South Dakota was led by sophomore forward Bridget Yoerger (Hinton, IA), who had her fourth career double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. She also had three blocked shots in 35 minutes of work. Junior forward Ashley Bjorkman (Vermillion) had a season-high 17 points and made 5-of-10 three-point field goals. Junior guard Jeana Hoffman (Mitchell) added 13 points, while her sister Jenna (Mitchell) had eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Point guard Shannon Daly (Groton) added five points, five assists and five rebounds.

On the night, the Coyotes converted 29-of-68 field goals for 42.6 percent, including 10-of-31 from three-point range for 32.3 percent. USD was just 2-of-4 from the foul line. USD made 10 three-pointers in a road game for the first time since a 97-80 decision over Colorado Christian on Nov. 25.

The Mavericks were paced by Alyssa Green with 12 points while Karen Thies had 10 points and seven rebounds. Ashley Freerksen added 10 points. Overall, UNO made 19-of-50 field goals for 38 percent, including 4-of-15 three-point field goals. UNO was 13-of-19 from the foul line.

Key to the Coyotes' win was converting points off turnovers in which USD held a 25-8 advantage. The Coyotes won the rebound battle, 40-36, and held an advantage in offensive boards by a 16-11 margin.

UNO jumped to a quick 4-2 lead at the 18:13 mark when Thies hit a pair of free throws. USD scored six straight points to take an 8-4 lead at the 16:07 mark as Yoerger had six straight points. With 12:42 left on the first half clock, Daly hit a three-pointer to give USD a 14-12 lead.

Later, UNO had consecutive three-pointers from Freerksen to take a 23-17 lead at the 8:47 mark of the half. USD answered with consecutive scores from Yoerger to cut the lead to 23-21 at the 7:53 mark. A basket by Natalie Carda (Beresford) tied the game at 23-23 with 7:20 on the clock. USD regained the lead on a basket by Jasmine Mosley (Bellevue, NE) off an assist from Daly at the 6:37 mark. Once again, the Mavericks built a small lead, going ahead 32-27 when Green scored on a drive to the basket at the 3:28 mark. The Coyotes rallied behind Yoerger and Bjorkman. First Yoerger grabbed an offensive rebound to cut the lead to 32-29 at the 2:53 mark and then Bjorkman's three-point shot at the 1:58 mark gave USD a 33-32 lead. Bjorkman, who had 12 first-half points, hit a three with 17 seconds left for a 36-34 lead. Thies hit a jumper as time expired in the first half to deadlock the game at 36-36 at the break.

The Coyotes, paced by Yoerger's 12 points and six rebounds, hit 15-of-35 shots for 42.9 percent, including 5-of-16 from three-point range for 31.3 percent in the first half. USD attempted just two free throws (made one) in the first half. UNO was 12-of-27 from the field for 44.4 percent, including 4-of-9 from three-point range for 44.4 percent. The Mavericks made 8-of-9 free throws. USD held a 19-18 rebound advantage in the opening half. UNO was led by Green and Thies with eight points each.

USD's second-half rally began quitely enough with Yoerger scoring inside for a 43-38 lead at the 16:29 mark. However, just a minute later, Yoerger scored inside and converted a free throw after being fouled as USD increased the lead to 46-38 at the 15:22 mark. Next, USD began knocking down three-point field goals as Jeana Hoffman's three-point shot provided USD with a 51-38 lead at the 14:09 mark. Less than 30 seconds later, Jeana Hoffman again hit from deep for a 54-38 lead at the 13:26 mark.

A basket by Thies reduced the USD lead to 56-46 at the nine-minute mark. However, USD continued to hit shots and Jeana Hoffman's three-pointer at the 7:42 mark of the second half built the Coyotes' lead to 61-47. USD's Bjorkman hit her fifth three-pointer of the game with 3:52 to play in the game for a 68-51 lead. Jeana Hoffman scored inside with 1:07 left for a 70-53 USD advantage.

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