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USD Coyotes Add Second Spotlight to SD

March 15, 2012, 6:10 PM by Brady Mallory

USD Coyotes Add Second Spotlight to SD

By now we all know both the SDSU Jackrabbits men's and women's basketball teams hopped over the Summit League tournament to the big dance, aka the NCAA Tournament.

"Good for them, I'm happy for them, but we'll have our day in the sun soon," USD Junior Eric Schlimgen said.

However, there is a spotlight shining over the USD Coyotes women's basketball team.  USD Women's team is representing the state in the Women's National Invitational Tournament.  The Coyotes make its debut in the WNIT, playing host to Drake of the Missouri Valley Conference.

"Being a first ever berth, it's a great accomplishment and they start off tonight against Drake, which is a very tough team, so there's going to be a lot riding on this game," USD Sophomore Nathan Puhl said.

It has been a good year for the women's team.  The Coyotes (22-7) ended the regular season with a 64-61 win over Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on March 1 at the DakotaDome.  Senior Amber Hegge paced the Coyotes with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while senior Annie Roche added 17 points. Freshman Kelly Stewart added eight points off the bench. It was South Dakota’s 12th win in 13 games.

"A couple of seniors have carried the team, but a lot of the younger players that have come in have a lot of talent too," USD Freshman Brittlyn Dillow said.

Students on the USD campus do not have quite as much excitement as the SDSU Jackrabbits.  Dillow said the WNIT does not really compare to the NCAA Tournament.  She and many other students only found out about the achievement on Tuesday. 

"It's not a men's game.  More people go to men's games, which is unfortunate," Dillow said.  "Men's is more exciting, dunks, whatever. I think as good as the girls do, they should have more fans at their games."

Still, you saw a lot of student pride flowing in a sea of red.  A lot of students wore red Coyotes shirts, pants and hats.  Whether it is the WNIT or the NCAA, the bigger picture will show you more than just school spirit.  Any big accomplishment at a university puts a magnifying glass on the whole state of South Dakota.

"Well, I hope the women's team winning (its way to the WNIT) and doing so well thus far will talk for itself.  I think they will continue to win in the future and change the perception of the nation," Schlimgen said.

The game against Drake tips off at 7 p.m., March 15 at the Dakota Dome in Vermillion.

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