Summit League Preview: South Dakota Women at Purdue-Fort Wayne
After running the table during the 2018 Summit League regular season, South Dakota is showing no signs of slowing down at the midway point of the 2019 schedule.
The Coyotes (19-3/7-1 Summit League) roll into the second half of league play with just a single blemish on their record - a week two loss at Denver.
USD enters the second half as the number-one scoring and number-two defensive team in the conference, sharing a two-game lead in the standings with South Dakota State with eight games to play.
Junior guard Ciara Duffy leads four double-figure scorers with better than 17 points per game. She's second in the Summit in scoring.
New Mexico transfer Hannah Sjerven has been making an impact off of the Coyote bench averaging 17 points per game in her last six.
South Dakota's lone game this week is at Purdue-Fort Wayne after a six-day layoff.
The Mastodons (6-15/2-7 Summit League) opened the Summit League schedule with six straight double-digit losses but ended the first half winning back-to-back games for the first time all season thanks to a defense that limited opponents to just 29 percent from the floor.
De'Jour Young, the lone senior on the Fort Wayne roster, scored 39 points on 55 percent shooting in those two games.
Young was held to just three points in a 66-56 loss at Oral Roberts, Wednesday (January 30).
The Mastodons have a strong inside presence with center Jaelencia Williams and Sh'Toya Sanders, two of the top seven rebounders in the conference. They are also two of the four best shot blockers in the Summit.
Despite their recent success, Purdue-Fort Wayne is still the lowest scoring team in the league. They have also committed more turnovers than anyone else, an average of 20 per game in their last six.
Tipoff is 11:00 AM, Saturday in Fort Wayne.
USD won the first meeting with Fort Wayne, 69-51, in Vermillion.
The Coyotes used a 16-4 second quarter to blow the game open, forcing ten first-half turnovers.
More than half of USD's points (36) came in the paint.
Sjerven led all scorers with 21 points. Anna Lappenkuper had 11 to lead the Mastodons.
Last Thursday (January 23) in Grand Forks, the Coyotes' defense held North Dakota to just seven first-quarter points and nine second-quarter points in an 80-50 win.
USD forced 12 first-half turnovers, five coming on steals from Allison Arens. The Coyotes outshot the Fighting Hawks 48 to 21 percent in the first 20 minutes, limiting UND to 1-of-10 from behind the three-point line.
On the night, Sjerven led four double-figure scorers with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Saturday (January 26), the Coyotes jumped on top of Western Illinois early and never looked back in a 92-49 win.
Chloe Lamb was 4-of-4 early sparking a 7-of-9 start for USD from the floor.
The Coyote defense meanwhile held the Leathernecks scoreless over a seven-minute stretch in the first half pushing the USD lead to 30 points at intermission.
After WIU opened the second half with eight straight points, South Dakota slammed the door quickly with an 11-0 run.
Sjerven's double-double (22 points/13 rebounds) led five Coyote players in double figures.
The USD defense forced 20 Leatherneck turnovers.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Dawn Plitzuweit about last week's games and the match-up Purdue-Fort Wayne: