The final week of the first half of the 2019 Summit League schedule begins in a familiar place for South Dakota - on the road.

The Coyotes (17-3/5-1 Summit League) play away from Vermillion for the fifth time in seven games when they head to North Dakota Thursday (January 24).

The Fighting Hawks (8-12/3-4 Summit League), in their first season in the Summit since coming over from the Big Sky Conference, are led by one of the top young stars in the league, sophomore forward Lexi Klabo.

Klabo is third in points per game, second in blocked shots, and third in rebounding in her first Summit League season. But she has been struggling a bit lately, shooting just 35 percent in a pair of losses last week.

Senior guard Jill Morton averages 13 points per game and is second in the Summit in assists.

UND is one of the top defensive rebounding teams in the conference but has been having trouble taking care of the basketball with 39 turnovers in two games last week.

Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday in Grand Forks.

The Coyotes close out the first half at home with a red hot Western Illinois team.

The Leathernecks (8-12/4-3 Summit League) have won three straight thanks to a diversified offense and stingy zone defense.

Senior guard Taylor Higginbotham leads the team with better than 16 points per game. She is one of the top three-point shooters in the conference.

On defense, junior guard Olivia Kauffmann, the reigning Summit League Player of the Week, leads the conference in steals and is seventh in rebounding.

WIU has been taking care of the basketball lately, turning it over just four times in a win over Purdue-Fort Wayne last week.

Tipoff is 1:00 PM, Saturday in Vermillion.

Last week, South Dakota swept a pair on the road to run their current winning streak to a league-high four games.

At Oral Roberts Friday (January 18), the Coyotes led by four after a back-and-forth first half but saw ORU's Lakota Beatty heat up in the third quarter, scoring 20 points in ten minutes on 7-of-7 shooting, including a trio of three-pointers. Beatty finished the game with 27 points.

The Coyotes trailed by as many as ten before mounting a 19-3 run in the fourth quarter. Allison Arens scored 12 of her 25 points in the final ten minutes and the USD defense added ten more points off of Golden Eagle turnovers in the 76-72 win.

Things were much easier Sunday (January 20) in Omaha as USD shot better than 65 percent in the first half and cruised to an 80-49 win over the Mavericks.

Ciara Duffy's 17 points led five players in double figures.

South Dakota struggled early with six turnovers in the first quarter but committed just six the rest of the game.

I talked with Coyotes head coach Dawn Plitzuweit about last week's games and the match-ups with North Dakota and Western Illinois:

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