By Chris Riley
VERMILLION — South Dakota State completed the regular season sweep over USD with a 63-55 victory in front of a fired-up DakotaDome crowd on Wednesday night while jumping out to a comfortable lead in the Summit League standings.
The Coyotes could have tied SDSU for first in the conference with a win, but USD could not pull even with the Jackrabbits as the second half wound down.
“It was a good tough win,” Jackrabbits head coach Aaron Johnston said. “USD is very good and will be there at the end — they play very hard and physical and defend well. For us to come down here and play as well as we did is a good sign.”
After a Tempestt Wilson jumper gave the Coyotes a 15-9 edge just over seven minutes into the game, the Jackrabbits clamped down and went on 22-4 run to go up by as many as 12 points in the first half and take a 34-27 halftime lead.
“You can’t dig yourself that kind of a hole against a good team like this and expect to win,” Coyotes head coach Amy Williams said.
USD closed the gap to four points multiple times in the second half but each time the Jackrabbits fought off the challenge.
Helping them to victory was SDSU’s 42-30 edge in rebounding, including 18 offensive boards to outscore the Coyotes 21-11 in second-chance points.
“We’ve been very successful when we control the battle of the boards, but we certainly did not do that tonight,” Williams said.
USD, 11-11, made the same number of field goals (24) as SDSU with three fewer attempts, but the Coyotes made just 5-of-15 from long range (compared to 5-of-12 for SDSU) and got to the free-throw line just four times in the entire game.
“We feel like we are a good team but we need to win hustle plays and the battle of the boards,” Williams added. “We can’t take any nights off. There is a lot of parity (in the Summit League) and we can not take anything for granted.”
With the victory, SDSU (16-6) takes a two game lead in league play which is essentially a three game edge since they have the tiebreaker over second-place USD.
The Jackrabbits, who have now won 31 of the past 34 meetings between these two squads, were led by sophomore Megan Waytashek’s 18 points. Senior Ashley Eide, who scored a game-high 22 points in the first meeting between the teams — a 72-60 Jackrabbit victory on January 6, finished with 15 points and six rebounds. Gabrielle Boever added 10 points on 80 percent shooting. Yankton native Chloe Cornemann came off the bench for 12 minutes and did not attempt a shot but did grab three offensive rebounds.
Tempestt Wilson led the Coyotes with 15 points and five rebounds, as the senior has now scored double-digit points in 12 consecutive games. Nicole Seekmap added 13 points and Lisa Loeffler finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Senior point guard Alexis Yackley recorded 10 assists to move into sixth-place on the all-time USD leader-board.
The Coyotes, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped, are 2-9 this season when allowing their opposition to score 60 points or more.
Summit League action continues this Saturday as SDSU travels to Kansas City while the Coyotes host North Dakota State University at the DakotaDome at 7 p.m.
When asked if there was a chance that these two teams would see each other again in Sioux Falls (at the Summit League tournament in March), Jackrabbit forward Megan Waytashek gave a sly grin while responding, “It’s a possibility.”
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