VERMILLION, S.D.—South Dakota junior guard Monica Arens banked in a regulation buzzer-beater to keep the Coyotes undefeated season alive, sending Wednesday night’s game against Drake to overtime. South Dakota came out on top of the extra period 102-94 inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
The Coyotes (3-0) won their seventh-straight home opener, improving to 41-8 all-time. Missouri Valley Conference favorite Drake (2-1) drops its first contest outside of Des Moines this winter.
“Tonight was a battle from start to finish,” said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “Drake is a really good team and had it really going offensively, but our young ladies found a way to make big plays on both ends in crunch time. The energy from the crowd in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center was electric and the roars down the stretch were really loud!
“This is a tough stretch with a short turnaround to play a Pac-12 team on Saturday, so we need to do a great job of recovering and preparing for Utah quickly!”
Junior guard Chloe Lamb paced the Coyotes with 23 points, tying her career high from last season. She knocked down six 3-pointers in the game, including two in the overtime period. Senior guard Ciara Duffy added 20 points with seven boards and four assists.
Junior center Hannah Sjerven and senior forward Taylor Frederick made big-time plays inside. Sjerven finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Frederick tallied 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Sjerven and Frederick drew 14 of Drake’s 31 fouls in the game.
Senior guard Madison McKeever was the fifth Coyote in double-figures with 15 points. All three of her 3-point field goals came in the fourth quarter as the Coyotes recovered from a 17-point deficit.
Although she missed a double-figure scoring tally for the first time this season, Arens’ hit the bucket when it mattered most. In addition to her eight points, she dished out seven assists, grabbed four rebounds and stole the ball three times.
Drake was led by Washington transfer Kierra Collier’s 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Senior forward Sara Rhine, a preseason Wade Trophy Watch List player, tallied 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Senior Brenni Rose tallied a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists. Junior Maddie Monahan joined them in double-figures with 14 points.
South Dakota shot 50 percent (32-of-64) in the game while Drake finished at 48.1 percent (37-of-77).
Drake got out to a 17-point lead just over two minutes into the second half. The Coyotes closed out the quarter on a 20-6 run, including a stretch of 12 unanswered points, to take Drake’s lead down to 65-62 entering the fourth period.
Mckeever drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing to close Drake’s lead to 71-70 with four minutes in regulation. The teams continued to trade buckets for a stretch, until the Coyotes were forced to foul down two with 21 seconds left on the clock. Monahan made both free throws to extend their lead to four points.
McKeever came up big again, draining the triple with 13 seconds left in regulation. The Coyotes got a quick foul to send the Bulldogs to the free-throw line, where they converted one of two. Arens banked in the floater in the lane with .1 seconds on the clock to tie it all at 82.
The momentum continued in the Coyotes’ favor into overtime, starting out hot on a 10-4 run with a pair of Lamb’s triples. South Dakota knocked down 10 free throws down the stretch to take away the 102-94 victory.
South Dakota returns to the road Saturday for a game at Utah in Salt Lake City with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. (CST).