For the first time since the 2003-2004 season, the University of South Dakota Coyotes and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits met in women's college basketball Monday night, Feb. 15.
As the much-anticipated game played out at SDSU's Frost Arena, a 67-48 win by the home team, crowd noise reached a fever-pitch, but fun was had by players and coaches on both sides.
"We've been to these games and have heard about the games, but nothing can prepare you for it; it was a whole new level," said USD senior forward Kara Iverson. "It was a fun game to play in."
"It certainly was a lot of fun," said SDSU's Ketty Cornemann. "The crowd was ridiculous and made it fun."
"The Jackrabbit fans were loud — there were times kids couldn't hear on the court – but kids want that; they want that environment," said USD head coach Ryun Williams.
USD opened the game at their tempo, slowing things down and looking for an open shooter while the home team had open looks but were unable to connect.
The Coyotes had the early 3-point edge as Abby Kinder, who nailed five treys in the first half in last Thursday's 73-49 win over Chicago State, tripled up from downtown, giving USD a 13-8 lead nine minutes into the game.
Annie Roche was able to penetrate with back-to back baskets, giving the 'Yotes a 21-15 lead, but the Jacks and Ketty Cornemann finally got the 3-ball going.
Jennie Sunnarborg began to bring SDSU back with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle, but former Yankton High School teammates Cornemann and Kara Iverson momentarily took center stage.
Cornemann sandwiched a 3-pointer from USD's Iverson, with a pair of drives to the rack, drawing the Jackrabbits to within a point at 24-23.
The Coyotes then went scoreless for the rest of the half and Cornemann gave SDSU a 25-24 lead with a trey with 2:46 to play in the half. Cornemann dropped in a 3-pointer from the corner as the half expired, and the home crowd was rocking with the 33-24 bulge at the break.
The 18-2 run lifted the pressure off the Jackrabbits and restored their energy for the second half.
"Ketty's big shots there at the end of the half were relaxing," said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston. "Ketty's three before th half was big, and as the game went on, we settled down defensively."
"It was really huge for us to hit that run at the end of the half," said SDSU senior Maria Boever. "It brought us out with that energy for the second half."
After USD's Roche cued for three and Hegge knocked down a pair of free throws, SDSU continued to build the lead in the second half.
Alison Anderson swished a 3-pointer, Maria Boever followed with a traditional 3-point play and Kristin Rotert sank from downtown, and SDSU's lead ballooned to 44-29.
The Coyotes answered with a Hegge basket in the lane and Case following her shot with a lay-in. Iverson swished a jump-shot and USD trailed 45-35 with 9:10 remaining.
An 8-0 run pushed SDSU's lead to 53-36 with 6:09 to play.
Jill Young dished to Kristin Rotert following a mad scramble and Sunnarborg put back on offensive rebound to restore order on the Jackrabbit side. Boever scored on a breakout, and the Jacks led 53-36.
The closest the Coyotes got was within 55-43 as Roche rolled in a lay-up with 2:59 to play.
SDSU converted seven of eight free throws in the final 2:17 to seal the 67-48 non-conference win.
The Jacks, who are tied for first in the Summit League with an 11-3 mark, escaped with the win and turn their attention to wrapping up their Summit League schedule with four games, including at first-place mates Oakland Feb. 22.
"We were actually tight for a good part of the game, you could sense there was a bit more pressure on us during the shoot-around today," said Johnston. "We played exceptionally hard, though, and we began to hit some shots we weren't hitting at the beginning of the game; making shots is the cure-all."
Rotert led SDSU with 14 points while Boever added 13 points. Michelson had 11 points and Cornemann finished with 10 points.
Roche led USD (10-12) with 12 points and six rebounds while Iverson and Jasmine Mosley each scored eight points. Kinder finished with nine points.
The USD fans reacted to a call on the floor with chants of profanity, but the nee rivalry, which commences in earnest in 2011-2012 when USD joins the Summit League, was ushered in with a friendlier dignity.
"Both sides, starting with the administrations, deserve a lot of credit because they wanted it handled professionally," said Johnston. "It was a good start to a new rivalry."
"It went really well," said Cornemann. "A couple of chants might have been inappropriate, but it went really well and I was impressed with how our student body handled themselves."
With the rivalry game behind his Coyotes, Williams can prepare for a Great West Conference home tilt against Utah Valley Thursday night, but competing in the Summit is the ultimate future goal.
"We've got to get some D-1 size and we've got to get in the weight-room and get stronger," said Williams. "I thought our kids competed well."
SOUTH DAKOTA (10-12)
Amber Hegge 2-5 2-4 6, Kara Iverson 3-7 0-0 8, Jasmine Mosley 2-9 4-4 8, Annie Roche 5-7 1-2 12, Abby Kinder 3-6 0-0 9, Samantha Mehr 0-0 0-0 0, Case 2-8 1-2 5. TOTALS: 17-42 8-12 48.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (16-9)
Ketty Cornemann 4-9 0-4 10, Jennie Sunnarborg 2-5 0-0 5, Maria Boever 5-8 2-3 13, Macie Michelson 4-12 2-2 11, Kristin Rotert 5-10 2-2 14, Jill Young 2-5 4-4 9, Alison Anderson 1-2 1-2 4, Steph Paluch 0-0 0-0 0, Jennie Schuttloffel 0-0 0-0 0, Ashley Eide 0-0 1-2 1, Katie Lingle 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23-51 12-19 67.
At the Half: SDSU 33, SD 24; 3-Point Goals: SDSU 9-27 (Cornemann 2-3, Sunnarborg 1-2, Boever 1-2, Michelson 1-9, Rotert 2-5, Young 1-4, Anderson 1-2), SD 6-14 (Iverson 2-4, Roche 1-1, Kinder 3-4, Case 0-5); Rebounds: SDSU 29 (Sunnarborg 6), SD 28 (Roche 6); Personal Fouls: SD 13, SDSU 13; Fouled Out: Roche; Assists: SDSU 15, SD 7; Turnovers: SD 20, SDSU 9; Blocked Shots: SDSU 4, SD 0; Steals: SDSU 10, SD 4.