Coyotes rally for overtime win over Jacks

Spencer Chase


Two of the top three teams in the Summit League faced off on Feb. 13 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.

In a late and dramatic turn of events, South Dakota rallied to defeat SDSU, a 59-53 overtime win that shocked the Jackrabbit faithful who followed their team down I-29.

After USD jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead, SDSU went on an 11-0 run to take the lead and take control of the game. SDSU played a well-rounded first half and went into halftime with a 10 point lead, 31-21. SDSU seemed to be playing their brand of basketball in the first half, but head coach Aaron Johnston said things seemed to change at halftime.

“We just didn’t shoot it well in the second half, so we just never got any momentum going,” Johnston said. “First half, I thought we played really clean, really well on both ends. Second half we defended really well … they just made a few more at the end than we did.”

SDSU maintained a strong lead until Amber Hegge, who had a game-high 28 points for USD, hit a 3-pointer with 2:22 left to make it a 49-43 ballgame.

“We can’t just not score and not play defense and expect to win,” Steph Paluch said. “We’ve got to play a whole 40 minutes.”

While SDSU failed to close out the game, Johnston felt his team gave a good enough effort to win the game, they just couldn’t convert in crunch time. After they struggled to score points in the second half, SDSU scored only four points in the overtime period, shooting 2-of-9 in the final session.

“Sometimes momentum can change a game … It’s hard to maintain a level of intensity when you’re not scoring, too. Had we made some baskets, I think you would have seen a little more enthusiasm. But I don’t think we were tired at all,” Johnston said.

Jill Young led the Jacks with 10 points and was the only Jackrabbit in double figures. Jennie Sunnarborg tied her season-high rebound mark with 13, the second time she’s hit the number in as many games.

USD also made their presence felt on the defensive end of the floor, recording seven blocks as a team. Five of those blocks were recored by Jodie Boss, who said the Coyotes are “the number one defensive team in the league for a reason.” The Coyotes also got steals in key moments from Alexis Yackley and eventually used those extra possessions to force overtime.

After suffering what can only be described as a heartbreaking loss to their biggest rival, the Jackrabbits will turn their attention to NDSU for their game on Saturday. Johnston says he is excited to see how his players will respond to the hardship of this loss.

“We played really well, and if that means it’s a challenge, then that’s okay, because we’ll be [better] from this game and better from this atmosphere,” Johnston said. “It’s exciting, that’s what you want in a conference. We have [a rivalry] now and we’ll have another similar game Saturday against North Dakota State and I think it’ll be good for everybody.”