Coyote women record big 60-57 win at Oral Roberts

Senior Amber Hegge scored a game-high 24 points as the South Dakota women's basketball team held off a second-half rally by Oral Roberts in a 60-57 Summit League victory over the Golden Eagles Monday night in Tulsa, OK. The Coyotes improved to 14-6 overall and 6-5 in the Summit League, while Oral Roberts fell to 14-8 and 8-3 in the conference.

The win by the Coyotes – one of their biggest since making the move to Division I – ended a 21-game home winning streak against Summit League foes for Oral Roberts, the preseason Summit League favorite. It was Oral Roberts' first Summit League home loss since Jan. 9, 2010.

 "That was a heck of an effort by our kids," South Dakota head coach Ryun Williams said. "This was a huge victory, no doubt about it. Oral Roberts is a very high-profile mid-major program. To beat them in their house, it's one of our biggest wins, if not the biggest."

Hegge (Crofton, NE) finished 10-of-13 from the field and also added seven rebounds. Senior guard Annie Roche (Vermillion) added 12 points and four assists, while junior guard Tempestt Wilson (Elk River, MN) added 11 points. Junior guard Alexis Yackley (Onida, SD) added a game-high nine assists, while senior center Jodie Boss (Columbus, NE) had 10 rebounds and three blocks.

The Coyotes led by 14 – 50-36 in the second half after leading almost the entire first half. An 18-4 run by Oral Roberts tied the game at 54-54 with 7:43 left.

The score stayed deadlocked at 54-54 for 4:10 until Boss drained a pair of free-throws with 3:33 left to break the tie and giving the Coyotes a 56-54 lead. With 2:51 left, Hegge scored a layup to give South Dakota a 58-54 lead with 2:51 left.

The Coyote defense was superb down the stretch, holding Oral Roberts without a point for more than seven minutes. Jordan Pyle's three-point play with 7:43 left tied the game at 54-54 – but the Golden Eagles would not score again until Georgia Jones drained a three with five seconds left. Roche answered with two big free throws in the final seconds to make the final score 60-57.

The Coyotes fell behind 2-0 early but responded with an 11-0 run to take a nine-point lead (11-2) with 16:25 left in the first half. Hegge led the way during that spurt with five points, while Wilson and Roche each drained threes.

That lead grew to 14-4 with 15:50 left in the half when Wilson drained a three.

Oral Roberts cut the lead to 16-13, but the Coyotes responded by scoring 10 of the next 12 points to stretch the lead to 26-15 with 8:44 remaining in the first half. Hegge had eight points for the Coyotes while Roche added a layup. Hegge had 15 of the Coyotes' first 26 points.

 "The first 10 minutes of the game were the critical part," Williams said. "We wanted to establish an aggressive but poised mentality and we did that."

South Dakota maintained the lead for the first of the half – never letting it go below five points – and took a 39-29 lead into halftime. Hegge had 19 points in the first half on 8-of-11 shooting, while Roche had eight. The Coyotes shot 50 percent (14-of-28) in the first half, compared to 38.7 percent (12-of-31) for Oral Roberts.

The Golden Eagles cut the lead to 43-34 early in the second half, but Wilson scored seven straight Coyote points to push the South Dakota lead to 50-36 with 17:00 left before Oral Roberts made a run to tie the game.

Yackley had six points and six rebounds in the contest. Boss led with two steals.

South Dakota returns home for a four-game homestand starting Saturday against Missouri-Kansas City. Game time is 5 p.m. at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.

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