Top-seeded Coyotes capture Summit League Championship

South Dakota's Hannah Sjerven earned Championship MVP honors scoring nine of her team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter.
South Dakota's Hannah Sjerven earned Championship MVP honors scoring nine of her team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter.

Press Conferences: South Dakota Head Coach Dawn Plitzuweit | South Dakota Players | SDSU Head Coach Aaron Johnston | SDSU Players

The Basics
Score: No. 1 South Dakota 63, No. 2 South Dakota State 58
Records: South Dakota (30-2), South Dakota State (23-10)
Location: Denny Sanford PREMIER Center - Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – It was the Coyotes year from start to finish in The Summit League and for the first time in six years, top-seeded South Dakota captured the postseason tournament title with a 63-58 victory over South Dakota State.

The games were a little easier during USD's 16-0 run through the regular season, but the 12th-ranked team in the country should not have expected anything else from its in-state rivals, who had won four of the last five title-game matchups between the two teams.

Championship MVP Hannah Sjerven scored nine of her team-high 15 points in a decisive fourth quarter that capped win No. 30 on the season for the Coyotes, who trailed at the half for only the fourth time this season.

USD jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but Tagyn Larson scored the final five points of an 8-0 run to give the Jackrabbits their first lead of the game at 10-8. The teams would trade field goals from there over the remainder of the opening quarter, which ended with the Coyotes leading 16-15.

The second quarter played out much like the end of the opening 10 minutes with the teams going back-and-forth until the Jackrabbits got the final two buckets of the half to take a 32-27 lead into halftime.

That was the largest lead of the first half for SDSU, who shot 54 percent from the field, including a 6-for-9 effort from beyond the arc while holding USD to a 37 percent clip. The Coyotes made just one field goal in the closing five minutes and connected on just 3-of-11 long-range attempts.

It marked just the fourth time this season that USD trailed at the break and first time since current No. 1 South Carolina led the Coyotes in their final non-conference game of the season.

Madison McKeever buried a 3-pointer to square things at 35-35, but Riley Cascio Jensen came right back with a triple to give SDSU the lead back.

Ciara Duffy would give the Yotes their first lead of the second half on a pair of free throws, breaking a 38-38 logjam and McKeever quickly followed with her second trey of the half to push the lead to five. The Jacks did not relent, clawing back to take a 47-45 lead into the fourth quarter.

Cascio Jensen, who finished with 13 points, capped a 7-0 run to close the stanza by equaling her season-high with her fourth three-pointer of the game.

USD started the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run of its own, which Sjerven capped with five straight points. The all-league first-teamer would go on to score nine points in the final quarter to help put the Coyotes' first tournament title since 2014 away.

McKeever and Lamb both scored nine of their 11 points in the second half as all five Coyote starters reached double figures. Monica Arens and Duffy both finished with 10 points.

Larson scored a game-high 16 points for the Jacks, who shot 47 percent from the field and held USD to a 33-percent clip to keep things close.

The Coyotes earned The Summit League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will find out its seeding, opponent and destination on Monday, March 16.

Turning Point
Trailing 47-45 entering the fourth quarter, the Coyotes opened the stanza on a 7-0 run as MVP Sjerven scored the final five points of that spurt and the top seed never trailed again.

All-Tournament Team
Rylie Cascio-Jensen, South Dakota State
Ciara Duffy, South Dakota
Chloe Lamb, South Dakota
Hannah Sjerven, South Dakota (MVP)
Tagyn Larson, South Dakota State

Inside the Box Score

  • USD's Hannah Sjerven scored nine of her team-high 15 points in the decisive fourth quarter.
  • SDSU went 6-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first half, but only 2-for-8 after the break.
  • The Jackrabbits outshot the Coyotes 47 percent to 34 percent, but the Coyotes outrebounded the Jacks 36-27 and had 19 second-chance points to just five for SDSU.

News & Notes

  • The Coyotes' tournament title was the program's first since claiming their only other postseason trophy in 2014.
  • South Dakota State had won four of the last five tournament titles.
  • USD's halftime deficit was its first of the season to a Summit League foe and first since current No. 1 South Carolina led the Coyotes 42-29 on Dec. 22. The Coyotes are now 2-2 when trailing at the half.

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