Stopping in Vermillion for a non-conference home game and a break from their three-game Summit League road trip proved to be the perfect remedy in the wake of the University of South Dakota's worst shooting performance of the year.
After shooting 24.1-percent in a 61-49 loss at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Saturday, the Coyotes rebounded with a 43-point first half and converted 55.2-percent of their shots in a 79-56 win over the Ivy League's Cornell Big Red at the DakotaDome Monday night.
"I thought we scored the ball well," USD head coach Ryun Williams said. "Scoring 43 points in the first half, that was just what we needed coming off a tough loss."
"We definitely have been struggling offensively missing some lay-ups and open shots; it's been frustrating," USD senior forward Amber Hegge said. "Tonight, everyone up and down the lineup was putting the ball in the hole; it seemed like it was contagious."
The Coyotes began the game hitting on 12 of 19 shots for 63.2-percent in taking a 29-18 lead with 11:50 to play in the first half.
USD's hot start trumped the Big Red's shooting, which would have held suit on most nights as they started eight of 16 in the game's opening 10 minutes.
As the half went on, the Coyotes' 100-point pace waned, but with three double-figure scorers at the break and a still-impressive 53-percent shooting percentage, USD took a 43-32 lead in to the lockerroom.
Hegge, who scored 14 points against the Big Red last January, had 13 points at the break while Annie Roche swished three of five 3-pointers and tallied 11 points. Tempestt Wilson, USD's top scorer with 15 points in last season's 60-45 win at Cornell, added 10 points as she canned a pair of treys.
Allyson DiMagno scored nine points to lead the Big Red at the half as Clare Fitzpatrick had eight points and six rebounds.
The lockerroom didn't cool the Coyotes down.
Alexis Yackley, who opened the game with a 3-pointer, did so to start 2nd-half action. Jodie Boss and Hegge added baskets and the Coyotes were off to a 50-32 lead in the early minutes of the second half.
The Coyotes grabbed their biggest lead thus far at 53-34 when Hegge spotted up for a 3-pointer with 15:48 to play.
"The first three or four minutes of the second half were key for us," Williams said. "We needed to score the ball or else we might not have kept the lead."
Kelly Stewart drove to rack and converted with the left hand, giving USD a 66-42 lead with 7:39 remaining.
After Stewart's drive, the Coyotes were still firing on all cylinders, penetrating the orange cylinder at 64.3-percent clip.
The Big Red outscored USD 11-7 in the final minutes, but the Coyotes were able to cruise to the 79-56 final and improve to 10-4 on the year.
Hegge finished with 22 points, six rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals.
McKayla Knudson, who is finally healthy after missing most of last season with an injury, scored 11 points.
"It's a lot of fun; this is a great group of girls and I've been practicing with them for two and half years," the red-shirt sophomore said. "It's nice to be out there on the floor contributing rather than just screaming my head off from the bench."
Conducting the finely tuned Coyote offense was junior guard Yackley, and passed out eight assists. Wilson added four assists to go with her 10 points. Roche finished with 11 points.
Fitzpatrick and DiMagno each finished with 15 points for the Big Red (5-8). Fitzpatrick grabbed 10 rebounds and Spencer Lane had six of Cornell's 18 assists.
Now, the Coyotes will renew rivalries in the Summit League with old North Central Conference foes.
USD, 2-3 in the Summit, will play at North Dakota State Saturday and South Dakota State Monday night.
The Bison have won 3-straight games to improve to 3-2 in the Summit while the Jackrabbits sit atop the conference standings with a 4-1 mark.
"It's always nice to get a win before a road trip – it's going to be a really tough trip; we know that," Williams said. "NDSU is playing well and SDSU is at the top of the league, so we're going to have to play really well."
"Renewing rivalries," Hegge said. "We're excited."