For the fourth straight season, the USD Women’s basketball program is heading to the NCAA Tournament. After defeating SDSU in the Summit League Tournament Championship game, the Coyotes are headed to Waco, TX to face 10-seed Ole Miss.
Get to know USD
The Coyotes have won 25 of their last 26 games and are currently 33rd in the NET Rankings (Which we are told is important, but actually holds little weight at all in seeding). The Coyotes have the 36th best FG% in the country and the 8th best scoring defense (53.1 ppg). They are led by their trio of Seniors:
- Hanna Sjerven – 14.8 ppg; 7.8 rpg; 3-time Summit League Defensive Player of the Year; 60 total blocks (33rd in nation); 51% FG
- Liv Korngable – All-Summit League 2nd Team; 12.8 ppg; 3.7 apg
- Chloe Lamb – Summit League Regular Season and Tournament MVP; 16 ppg;84% FT
We can’t forget to mention the Summit League’s Sixth Woman of the Year, freshman Grace Larkins, who averages 6.8 ppg and 2.9 rpg off the bench.
Get to know Ole Miss
Ole Miss finished 4th in the SEC this year, which is their best finish since 1993; some of you reading weren’t even born yet. They finished the season 23-8, which marks the first time since 2007 that the program has recorded 20 wins; they also went to the Elite 8 that season. Like USD, they lost to #1 South Carolina this season (except they lost three times to them). Eleven different players have started for Ole Miss this season. The Runnin Rebels score 67 ppg and allow 56 ppg. They are led by a few players:
- 6-5 Senior Shakira Austin – Averages 15.4 ppg and 8.9 rpg.
- Angel Baker – 10.7 ppg
- Madison Scott – 9.8 ppg; 6.9 rpg
A quick look at this matchup shows something that USD hasn’t had to face before in the Tournament: An extreme disadvantage in size. Ole Miss is not very big, at least not compared to the USD roster. Ole Miss shoots just 27% from 3-point land, while USD shoots 33%. Ole Miss gets to the free-throw line a lot more than USD does, and also seems to rebound a little better. Ole Miss seems to play pretty deep as well. Like I said earlier, 11 different players have started for them. So, while the stat lines may not show a high ppg for a player, a lot of different players score.
This Coyote group has been through so much, especially the senior group, so it is with the utmost respect that I challenge them to come out of the gates focused and fiery, unlike past trips to the Tournament. USD’s strong-suit in most games this season is how they start the 1st and 3rd quarters. This matchup with Ole Miss, while challenging, is the best opportunity they’ve had at their first NCAA Tournament win yet. If they can hang in there on the boards, not get in foul trouble, and shoot the ball well, they have a great chance of winning this game.
“No kidding, Jordan.” I just heard all of you say that, but that’s what it comes down to. All three of those things have been issues for USD in past NCAA Tournament games. I’m not bringing up anything about the Oregon game last year. I think that Hannah has a great game on the national stage, just like the performance she had against SDSU last week. I think Chloe and Liv both score 15 points a piece. I think that USD loses the rebounding battle, but makes more FTs in the end. This team is different, this team is determined, this team has everyone in their corner and waiting for that first Tournament win. USD delivers. They defeat Ole Miss 67-63 and go on to play Hawai’i on Sunday…
…..just kidding, they will play Baylor. Good luck Coyotes!