South Dakota women use hot start to roll past Denver

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WBB: South Dakota 79, Denver 51 

DENVER, Colo. (University of South Dakota) — A well-executed opening 15 minutes gave the Coyotes a 45-5 advantage in South Dakota’s 79-51 win over Denver on Thursday night inside Hamilton Gymnasium. 

South Dakota (13-4) extended its winning streak to 11-straight games with a 6-0 start to Summit League play. Denver (5-12) fell to 0-6 in league play. 

“Our defensive intensity and awareness was really good, especially at the start of the game, and that allowed us to not only get stops, but then also get into a nice rhythm on offense,” said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “We hope to see a lot of Coyote fans in Omaha Saturday afternoon when we take on the Mavericks at 1 p.m.” 

Four Coyotes reached double-figures in the game with fifth-year senior Chloe Lamb, sixth-year senior Hannah Sjerven and second-year freshman Maddie Krull scoring 14 points apiece to lead the Coyotes. Freshman Grace Larkins joined them with 12 points. 

Lamb moved to sixth in USD program history for career scoring and third for career 3-pointers made during the game. Sjerven moved to sixth for career rebounds at USD. 

Denver’s Uju Ezeudu, the reigning Summit player of the week, scored a game-high 15 points. 

Lamb scored six of USD’s first eight points en route to helping the Coyotes enjoy a 30-3 first-quarter lead. It was both the most points scored and second-fewest points allowed in a quarter this season. USD forced 11 Pioneer turnovers, with eight steals, during the opening frame. 

A 15-2 run to start the second period put the Coyotes up 45-5 with five minutes until the half. At the break, the Coyotes were shooting 65.6 percent from the floor, committed just three turnovers and held a +5 rebounding margin. USD’s defense forced 16 first-half turnovers, while the Pioneers attempted just 18 first-half field goals. 

South Dakota’s largest lead of the game was 66-22 with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter. Only one Coyote starter saw more than six minutes on the court in the second half and Denver closed the scoring margin by nine with Ezeudu tallying 11 second-half points. The Coyotes finished it off with a 79-51 victory. 

South Dakota shot 50 percent (29-of-58) from the floor and 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from behind the arc. Denver used its strong finish to reach 40 percent (18-of-45) from the field. Sjerven was 7-of-8 from the field with her only miss coming from a 3-point attempt and Lamb was 6-of-8 on the night. 

In setting up those shots, Lamb and Liv Korngable dished out six and five assists, respectively. That number ties Lamb’s career high for assists. 

The Coyotes scored 35 points off 24 Pioneer turnovers in the game. 

South Dakota outrebounded Denver 31-22, pulling down 10 offensive boards. The Coyotes were balanced on the glass with fourth-year junior Allison Peplowski grabbing a team-high five rebounds. 

The Coyotes’ road trip continues Saturday against Omaha. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.

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