Coming off a season-low 43 points in a loss at Northern Iowa, the University of South Dakota women's basketball team was looking to get its offense going in a matchup against Big Sky Conference defending co-champion and former North Central Conference rival Northern Colorado.
The Coyotes did just that, blistering the nets at a 50 percent clip and setting a defensive milestone to boot, as they bounced the Bears 73-48 Saturday at the DakotaDome.
In the contest, senior Jodie Boss became the Coyotes' all-time leader in blocked shots with 136, tying her single-game mark of seven in the process.
Boss, who is also the career in blocked shots at Wayne State (168), also went over 300 blocked shots for her collegiate career on Saturday.
"Last year I got the single-season record. Once I knew how close I was, it became a personal goal of mine," said the 6-4 senior of the mark.
The Columbus, Neb., native's ability to deflect shots without making contact has been vital to USD's defensive effort.
"She is such a unique talent," said USD head coach Ryun Williams. "She has a good sense of timing. She understands help situations, which allows our guards to lock up on the perimeter. She's tuned into the scouting report every single night."
The game started with an offensive surge. Amber Hegge attacked the basket for the game's first four points, and a Tempestt Wilson kick-out to Boss gave the Coyotes a 6-0 lead to start the game. UNC scored the next five points, all by Lauren Oosdyke, but another 8-2 USD run – including a pair of Alexis Yackley three-pointers, kept the Bears at arm's length.
With UNC within two, 21-19, the Coyotes started to pull away. Three-pointers by Annie Roche and Taylor Moore, combined with inside scores by Hegge and Boss, gave USD a 34-24 lead. After a Molly Duehn three-point play for UNC, the Coyotes scored the next 14 points to put the game out of reach.
Hegge scored the first four points of the game and the first eight points of the second half on the way to a game-high 21 points. She also had seven rebounds and four blocked shots.
"It's an unwritten rule. She's definitely our offensive spark," said Yackley, who had 11 assists and seven rebounds to go with her 11 points. "She gets it going, they collapse in on her and it opens things up."
Roche finished with 16 points, hitting four three-pointers. Boss had 14 points on 6-7 shooting to go with her seven blocks. Wilson had nine rebounds in the win.
As a team, USD had 25 assists on its 28 field goals, and outrebounded the Bears 38-25.
"This was a big win. Coming off the UNI game and a long road stretch, it could have been easy to be flat," Williams said. "We played extremely well on both ends for 40 minutes."
Oosdyke finished with 10 points for UNC (5-4). D'shara Strange had nine points and seven rebounds.
The Coyotes will now take nine days off from competing as it is finals week at USD. When USD (6-2) returns to action, it will travel to Utah Valley (Dec. 19) and Idaho State (Dec. 21).
For the Coyotes, going into the longest break from games during the season, having a win to enter the layoff is a good thing.
"All of the players were a little afraid of what practice would have been like," Yackley said. "It will be nice to relax a little and get in the gym."