BY CHRIS RILEY
Following a 71-55 victory over Big East Conference stalwart Seton Hall in the Pepperdine Holiday Tournament in Malibu, Calif. on Saturday, the University of South Dakota women's basketball team looked to bring some momentum into Thursday's match-up against Idaho State.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes, the Bengals shut down USD's offensive attack and outscored the 'Yotes 37-23 in the second half on the way to a 69-45 victory at the DakotaDome.
Idaho State, which qualified for last year's NCAA Tournament after winning the Big Sky Conference, opened up a 10-point lead at the half and never trailed after the 12-minute mark.
"They (Idaho State) really executed well in the second half, they were able to hit their shots," USD coach Amy Williams said. "Everything we tried to take away from them they countered."
The Coyotes, who fell to 2-5 with the loss, did not help themselves by shooting only 26 percent from the field, along with 68 percent from the free-throw line.
"We knew it was going to take a little time with a new team and new system to learn where those scoring opportunities are coming from," Williams added. "But right now we are not executing our offense at a very high level."
After a Nicole Seekamp free throw tied the game at 15-15 with 9:02 remaining in the first half, the Bengals used a 17-7 run to close the first period. Idaho State, now 3-2, carried that energy into the second period of play as they used a 10-3 run in the first three minutes of second-half play to extend their lead to 15 and never led by less than 13 for the remainder of the ball game.
Senior Tempestt Wilson led the Coyotes with 14 points. Junior Polly Harrington added 12 points but was limited to just 20 minutes of action due to early fouls.
"We need Polly to stay out of foul trouble," Williams said. "She got herself into a position where she had to foul and sit herself on the bench and we can't afford for her to do that."
Freshman Margaret McCloud was the only other Coyote to score more than four points, as she finished the game with seven while adding a team-high nine rebounds.
Idaho State had a trio of players in double figures. Lindsey Reed finished with 20 points while Cydney Horton scored 12 and Kara Jenkins added 10. Ashleigh Vella grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with her eight points.
The Bengals finished the game shooting 36 percent from the field but they were more successful from behind the three-point line, making eight of seventeen shots (47 percent).