USD women’s basketball completes perfect NCC season with win March 1

USD women's basketball completes perfect NCC season with win March 1
Led by Bridget Yoerger's 10th career double-double, The University of South Dakota women's basketball team finished the North Central Conference unbeaten by defeating St. Cloud State, 74-59, on Saturday before 3,190 in attendance at the DakotaDome.

South Dakota, which improved to 26-1 overall and 12-0 in the NCC, became just the sixth league champion to complete a conference season with a perfect record.

The Coyotes, ranked third in NCAA Division II, will be the number one seed and host of the North Central Conference tournament finals which will be held on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9 at the DakotaDome.

USD will receive a first-round bye in the NCC Tourney and then face the winner of the Minnesota-State/St. Cloud State game on Saturday afternoon at home. The MSU/St. Cloud State game will be played in Mankato, MN, on Wednesday night.

During halftime of the USD/SCSU men's game, Colin Kapitan of the North Central Conference office presented the USD women's basketball team and Coach Chad Lavin with the North Central Conference title plaque. The NCC title is the fifth in school history by the USD women's team.

With the win, the Coyotes won for the 24th straight time this season. USD also won for the 16th straight time at the DakotaDome.

The Huskies, which fell to 11-16 overall and 3-9 in the NCC, kept the game close until the Coyotes had a 15-2 run late in the second half to gain control of the game.

Yoerger made 7-of-13 field goals and 3-of-6 from the foul line for 17 points. She also had 11 rebounds, including four offensive boards, along with two assists.

Senior shooting guard Jeana Hoffman finished with 14 points, including three, three-point baskets. She also had two steals and three rebounds. Hoffman finished the regular season with 95 three-point baskets and 166 in her career, which is the third-best total in school history.

The Coyotes had four players score in double digits, including Jenna Hoffman with 12 points and Shannon Daly with 10. Senior Ashley Robinette had eight points and three rebounds in her final regular season game at the DakotaDome.

Overall, the Coyotes made just 35 percent from the field on 21-of-60 shooting. USD converted 7-of-22 shots (31.8 percent) from three-point range and made a season-high 25-of-34 free throws for 73.5 percent. In two games against SCSU the Coyotes made 49-of-68 free throws. The Huskies made 36.4 percent from the field on 20-55 shooting. They were 3-of-11 from three-point range and 16-of-21 for 76.2 percent from the foul stripe. SCSU was led in scoring by guard Katie Tacheny with 15 points and Kayla Rengel with 14.

Throughout the game, the Coyotes jumped to leads only to see the Huskies fight back into contention. USD took a 12-8 lead on a lay-up by Yoerger at the 15:50 mark of the first half. South Dakota had a 14-7 run to take a 26-15 lead at the 7:42 mark.

The Huskies answered the Coyotes' charge and pulled to within 29-23 after Kayla Rengel scored inside with 4:57 remaining in the half. Then, SCSU cut the lead to five points at the 1:54 mark on two foul shots by Tacheny. Yoerger responded with an inside basket for a 37-29 advantage (1:11) but the Huskies scored with three seconds left on the clock to trail just 37-31 at the break.

South Dakota has proven to be a tough team to defeat when leading at halftime. On Saturday, they extended their streak to 37 straight wins (over the past two seasons) when leading at the halftime break but not without a few anxious moments in the second half.

After USD took a 45-37 with 14:56 left to play on a three-point shot by Maggie Youngberg. However, the Huskies responded with a 8-2 run to close within 47-45 at the 12:20 mark of the second half. SCSU had a couple of chances to tie the game but were stopped by the USD defense. Later, the Huskies pulled to within 52-51 at the 7:48 mark after Talisha Barlow made a lay-up.

The Coyotes answered with a 9-0 run to grabbed a 61-51 advantage at the 5:49 mark after Daly scored inside. Two foul shots by Jenna Hoffman increased the advantage to 67-54 with 4:32 left in the game. South Dakota pushed the lead to 74-57 at the 1:36 mark on a lay-up by Jenna Hoffman. From there, the Coyotes emptied the bench and inserted reserves as the team and USD fans began to celebrate USD's first unbeaten league season in school history.

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