For the second straight year, the Coyotes are going dancing! USD defeated Omaha in the Summit League Championship game 66-43 to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Barring an extremely unfortunate circumstance, USD will get a chance to prove themselves on the big stage, unlike last season (Ya know, COVID-19).
The game started out quickly for the Coyotes. Chloe Lamb drilled a three to open up the game, after 4 straight misses on one possession. Sjerven and Morgan Hanson followed with a couple of scores and the Yotes found themselves out to an early 13-0 lead. Omaha’s first basket didn’t come until 3:05 left in the quarter, thanks to All-Tournament team selection Josie Filer. The Yotes led 15-5 after one on 31% shooting; Omaha shot an ice-cold 18% from the field.
Omaha would put together a nice start to the second quarter. By the media timeout they cut USD’s lead to seven, trailing 21-14. Back-to-back threes by Omaha’s Mariah Murdie and Sophie Johnston cut the Mavs deficit to one at 21-20, the closest they would be the rest of the day. South Dakota would follow with a nice 8-0 run of their own. Looks were getting easier down-low for the Yotes as they took a 29-21 lead into halftime. Chloe Lamb led all scorers with 10 points and 5 rebounds at the break. All 7 Omaha players scored in the first half.
Just like the first quarter, the Coyotes came out firing to start the second half. They opened the first four minutes on an 11-2 run and by the time you returned from the concession stand, USD led 42-23. USD continued to make great cuts to the basket and get wide-open looks down low. A bucket by Sjerven extended the lead to 20 points for the first time at 44-24. Omaha struggled in the third quarter taking care of the ball. They ended with seven turnovers in the third quarter alone (17 in the game). The Coyotes took a 49-30 lead into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was just a 10 minute timer until the Coyotes could celebrate. Reserve student athletes entered the game for both teams by the media timeout. There were a lot of hugs on both benches as Omaha’s season came to an end while USD’s season extended to the NCAA Tournament. Senior Monica Arens of USD was emotional as she hugged her teammates as they came off the court. The same could be seen on Omaha’s bench as well.
I’ve gone into this in my previous two recaps of Omaha games, but what Omaha did this season and Tournament is not only historic, but good to see.
“I’m so proud of our four seniors this season”, Omaha Coach Carrie Banks said, “It was just an amazing run for this year and everything that’s happened.”
I look forward to seeing Coach Banks and company be competitive again next season.
The story for USD was their defense. They held Omaha to just 13 made field goals today (five in the second half). Omaha’s Claire Killian was asked about Omaha struggling against the Coyote defense. She said, “USD was really good today. They’re always really good in their defensive game plan. They had good help-side defense today so even on kick outs, it made it hard.”
USD finished the Tournament beating their three opponents by an average of 24 ppg.
Championship MVP Chloe Lamb had 17 points and six rebounds; All-Tournament team member Hannah Sjerven had 20 points, nine rebounds, and three rebounds;
Lauren Frost led Omaha with 10 points and five rebounds.
Some Stats Before You Go
South Dakota held the Mavericks to five field goals in the second half
South Dakota had a 21-3 run that spanned the end of the second quarter and start of the third quarter.
Omaha and South Dakota had 13 fouls a piece. The refs let them play today (thank you).
The Yotes await their next matchup. Selection Monday for the Women’s bracket will be Monday, March 15th on ESPN.
I want to thank any of you who read one or all of my articles this year. This is new to me. I enjoy writing, but writing about sporting events is pretty hard, so I’m sure I made some mistakes along the way. I have the utmost respect to those that write like this for a career, some of whom I sat next to this whole Tournament. Thank you Todd for allowing me to follow and write about the Summit League Women’s basketball programs and make my podcast debut this year. I hope you all follow us on Twitter because next year is going to be even better as we look to expand our reach and portfolio. Now, please excuse me as I go celebrate with an adult beverage to celebrate my alma mater winning the Conference Championship.