WBB: SDSU shows improvement, falls short in round two of SD Showdown

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

In the second women’s basketball edition of the South Dakota Showdown Series, South Dakota State University kept it close for 40 minutes but ultimately fell to the No. 20 University of South Dakota 77-67 Saturday afternoon at Frost Arena.

“I thought that was a very good basketball game,” USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “I thought South Dakota State played incredibly, incredibly hard.”

Although the Jackrabbits (20-9, 12-3 Summit) put forward a much better showing than in their 35-point loss last month in Vermillion, they struggled to match the Coyotes’ (26-2, 15-0 Summit) aggressiveness on both ends of the court. The Jacks outscored the ‘Yotes in the third quarter but lost the scoring battle in the other three frames.

“They played well and made shots. That second half they made every shot they needed to make,” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said. “I thought we played certainly hard enough and at times well enough — just a little bit loose on offense and defense. Just a few processions we could go back and change but they (USD) just played solid throughout… I just thought their experience made a big difference.”

For the yellow and blue seniors, this was their last appearance in Frost Arena. One of those seniors, Tagyn Larson, was one rebound short of a double-double, recording 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Freshman Tori Nelson contributed 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, and sophomore Paiton Burckhard scored 11 points to go along with five rebounds.

For the more experienced Coyotes, four of the seven players that saw playing time reached double digits. Junior Chloe Lamb, who played all 40 minutes, tallied 22 points to lead the ‘Yotes. 

“She’s clutch, I’ll say it for her because she is too humble,” Duffy said. “Chloe steps up in big games and that’s the reality.”

Assisting Lamb, Madison McKeever had 19 points and three assists and Duffy finished with 17 points and eight assists.

In the last four minutes of the game, the Jacks came out with a trapping zone full-court press that flustered USD, but not enough to create an upset. 

“We did a good job of responding when they did go on runs,” Larson said. “We kept our energy high and came together and said hey we got this, and we didn’t let them get too excited.”

The crowd of 3,672 added to the heated rivalry environment, which Plitzuweit pointed to as a challenge for her undefeated Summit League squad.

“The fans really got into it and made it a very difficult environment to play in,” Plitzuweit said. “Certainly, we feel very fortunate to come out on top.”

With the Jackrabbit loss, the Coyotes locked up the No. 1 seed for next month’s Summit League Tournament. South Dakota State is now locked into the No. 2 seed for the tournament, with a third matchup looming. 

Johnston knows that there are adjustments to be made in the possible matchup in March. 

“We are going to have to find a way to slow them down offensively, it really wasn’t pace that got us, it was just execution,” Johnston said.