South Dakota led early, battled throughout and made proud the large contingency of Coyote fans at Hilton Coliseum before falling to second-seeded Stanford 81-62 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Stanford (30-3, 17-1 Pac 12) got 23 points and eight rebounds from national player of the year candidate Chiney Ogwumike and six 3-pointers from reserve forward Bonnie Samuelson to advance to the round of 32 where the Cardinal will meet 10th-seeded Florida State Monday.
While Stanford was making its 27th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, the Coyotes were making their first. South Dakota junior guard Nicole Seekamp made her first six shots from the field and finished with a team-high 22 points. The Coyotes' lone senior, Polly Harrington, added nine points. Tia Hemiller and Kelly Stewart each made two 3-pointers and had eight points.
South Dakota (19-14, 7-7 Summit) scored on its first four possessions and led 10-7 less than five minutes into the game. Stanford scored 24 of the game’s next 31 points to take a 31-17 edge with seven minutes to go in the half. The Cardinal shot 51 percent in the first half and led 42-27 at halftime.
Seekamp led all scorers with 14 first-half points. She and Harrington combined to score all but seven of USD’s first-half points. The Coyotes committed 10 first-half turnovers and were outscored in the paint 28-6 in the first 20 minutes.
The abilities of the 6-foot-4 Ogwumike forced USD to play a 2-3 zone for one of the few times all season. The defense held Ogwumike below her season averages of 27 points and 12 rebounds. It also limited the Cardinal to six free-throw attempts. But it paved the way for the Cardinal to make 10 three-pointers on 29 attempts. Samuelson scored all 18 of her points from beyond the arc. Lili Thompson was 3-of-6 from long range and had 11 points.
South Dakota made 6 of 18 threes and 8 of 11 free throws. Hemiller was 2 of 3 from 3-point range. She also matched Ogwumike’s eight rebounds and had three assists and three steals.
The two teams played nearly even in the second half. Stanford’s largest lead was 79-54 with less than four minutes to go. The Coyotes closed the game on an 8-2 run.
Courtesy: Bryan Boettcher, USD