By Jeremy Hoeck
Back in the comforts of the DakotaDome, Nicole Seekamp snapped her shooting woes in a big way.
And yes, the two are connected.
“Thank god, too, that was really frustrating,” said Seekamp, who scored a game-high 26 points to lead the University of South Dakota women past Boise State 74-61 in Sunday afternoon’s traditional home opener.
Having made just three of her last 27 shots in the previous two games, Seekamp went 10-for-19 on Sunday in helping the Coyotes (2-4) snap a 4-game losing streak.
“I think that was us trying to find our way together,” the junior said. “We were excited to start the season, then we got settled in and had to find our strengths.”
The recipe for the Coyotes included three players in double figures, a 24-5 run to start the second half and a plus-13 edge on rebounds.
Seekamp’s performance — which included 3-of-5 on three-pointers and 3-of-3 at the free throw line — also helped USD overcome 21 turnovers.
“Nicole finally scored at the level we think she is capable of, and part of that is probably just being back in the dome,” head coach Amy Williams said.
Such comforts also resulted in a 50-37 edge on the glass for the Coyotes, who pointed to that area as a source of improvement after losing to Drake in last Thursday’s ‘home’ opener in Sioux Falls.
“We knew that this team was probably the best rebounders we’ve seen, so we had to lock down,” Seekamp said. “Sometimes they got the ball off a miss, but our effort was there the whole time.”
And it was much needed, too, according to transfer Raeshel Contreras, who added 14 points off the bench.
“Rebounding has been a focus every game, but today we executed, boxed out and crashed hard,” Contreras said.
Contreras, a transfer from Foothills College (CA), provided an immediate boost upon coming into the game, scoring 10 points in a 2-minute span to propel USD to a 10-point lead seven minutes into the first half.
The Broncos reeled off 10 straight to take a 28-27 lead at the 5:16 mark. It wouldn’t last, though, as Contreras swished a three ahead of the halftime horn to give the Coyotes a 37-36 edge.
With Boise State off to a 2-of-20 start to the second half, the Coyotes embarked on a 14-0 run to take control 51-38 — the run reached 24-5 when USD led 61-43.
The Coyotes led by as many as 18 points in the second half, and though the Broncos cut the deficit to 69-61 with two minutes left. USD, though scored the game’s final five points to pull away.
“The last couple games, we had that lead and somehow let teams get back in it,” Seekamp said. “So we had to continue pushing the energy.”
Especially on the glass, Williams said.
“One thing we talked about is that we have to dominate the boards if we want a chance to win games,” she said. “We’ve been average so far. Even today we made a step in the right direction, but we’re not there yet.”
Senior Polly Harrington chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds before fouling out for USD, while Lisa Loeffler added nine points and seven rebounds.
Brandi Henton scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Boise State (2-3), which shot 22 percent in the second half and 31 percent for the game.
Having returned to the dome after five straight on the road to start the season, the Coyotes will return to the bus Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game at Creighton in Omaha, NE.
“I have a ton of respect for them and their program,” Williams said. “They have a bunch of seniors, and they’ll be in the comforts of their home court, so that’ll be a really tough challenge for us, there’s no question about it.
“I’d like to be able to carry some momentum from this win and see if we can go down there and keep it going.”
You can follow Jeremy Hoeck on Twitter at twitter.com/jhoeck. Discuss this story at www.yankton.net
BOISE STATE (2-3)
Lexie Der 4-14 2-4 11; Miquelle Askew 3-6 4-4 10; Yaiza Rodriguez 2-9 2-2 8; Keiahnna Engel 2-8 0-2 4; Brooke Pahukoa 1-5 0-0 2; Tonishia Childress 1-4 0-0 2; Kenna McDavis 1-5 0-0 2; Brandi Henton 7-13 1-2 18; Kayla Reinhart 1-8 2-2 4. TOTALS 22-72 11-16 61.
SOUTH DAKOTA (2-4)
Polly Harrington 4-9 5-7 14; Lisa Loeffler 3-5 2-2 9; Tia Hemiller 0-3 0-0 0; Nicole Seekamp 10-19 3-3 26; Heidi Hoff 2-5 0-0 4; Madeleine White 0-0 0-0 0; Taylor Moore 0-4 0-0 0; Bridget Arens 1-1 0-1 2; Raeshel Contreras 3-10 5-6 14; Jaylah Jackson 0-0 0-0 0; Margaret McCloud 2-5 1-3 5. TOTALS 25-61 16-22 74.
Halftime: USD 37-36. Three-Point Shooting: USD 8-20 (Seekamp 3-5, Contreras 3-7, Harrington 1-1, Loeffler 1-2, Hemiller o-1, Hoff 0-1, Moore 0-3), BSU 6-23 (Henton 3-6, Rodriguez 2-4, Der 1-4, Engel 0-2, Pahukoa 0-2, McDavis 0-2, Reinhart 0-3). Total Rebounds: USD 50 (Harrington 8), BSU 37 (Der 9). Assists: USD 17 (Hemiller 4), BSU 5 (Der 2). Steals: BSU 8 (Der 2, Engel 2), USD 5 (Seekamp 3). Turnovers: USD 21, BSU 14. Personal Fouls: BSU 19, USD 18. Fouled Out: Askew, Engel, Harrington. Technical Fouls: Harrington. Attendance: 1,185.