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Hegge's 2nd Half Rallies Coyotes

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MACOMB, Ill.  - - Senior forward Amber Hegge scored 23 of her game-high 26 points in the second half to help the South Dakota women’s basketball team earn a 62-47 win over Western Illinois in Summit League action Monday night in Macomb, Ill. The Coyotes, who won for the ninth time in 10 games, improved to 19-7 overall and 10-6 in the Summit League, while Western Illinois fell to 11-16 overall and 7-9 in the conference.


The Coyotes bounced back from a loss at IUPUI with a solid all-around performance against the Leathernecks, particularly in the second half. A big factor was getting to the free throw line – and converting those shots. The Coyotes hit 24-of-26 free throws (92.3 percent) in the game, compared to 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) for Western Illinois.


Hegge (Crofton, Neb.) had a strong all-around night, as she added nine rebounds and three blocks to go with her 26 points. She hit 3-of-5 three-pointers and also was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.


“We established as good an offensive rhythm as we had in a while,” South Dakota head coach Ryun Williams said.  “Amber made some three, and she played really aggressive and finished well in the second half. As a team, we were really good at the foul line. We played with much more aggressiveness and with much more of a will to score in the second half.”


Senior center Jodie Boss (Columbus, Neb.) added 10 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks, going a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Junior guard Alexis Yackley (Onida, S.D.) added eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals, while senior guard Annie Roche (Vermillion, S.D.) chipped in with eight points.


The Coyotes led 23-22 at halftime but trailed 30-27 with 17:36 left in the contest. However, a 10-0 run – sparked by four points from Hegge and two apiece from junior Tempestt Wilson (Elk River, Minn.), freshman Kelly Stewart (Amery, Wis) and Boss – over the next four minutes pushed the Coyotes in front, 37-30 with 13:43 left.


A pair of Hegge free throws pushed the lead to 45-35 with 10:57 left, but Western Illinois scored four straight to cut the Coyote lead to six with 8:49 left. However, it was a Hegge three that helped the Coyotes regain the momentum for good, as she drained a three with 6:24 left to push the lead back to nine at 48-39. The South Dakota lead was never less than seven the rest of the way.


The Coyotes hit 12-of-13 free throws over the final 3:54 of the game.


The game was close throughout the first half. The Coyotes led 12-11 but a four-point play by Roche gave them the largest lead of the half at 16-11 with 9:09 remaining. The five-point advantage was the largest lead of the half for either team.


The Leathernecks came back to tie the game at 18-18, but Hegge drained a three-pointer with 3:25 left in the half to put the Coyotes back out in front, 21-18. South Dakota took a 23-22 lead into halftime.


Yackley and Hegge paced the Coyotes with six points each in the first half, while Boss had four points and seven rebounds. Both teams struggled shooting the ball in the first half – the Coyotes shot 29.6 percent (8-of-27), compared to 26.9 percent (7-of-26) for Western Illinois. The Coyotes did have a 23-15 edge in rebounds in the opening half, however.


In the second half, South Dakota outscored Western Illinois, 39-25.


The Coyotes, who ended the road portion of their regular-season schedule, return to the DakotaDome for a three-game homestand, starting Saturday against Oakland.  The game, part of a women’s/men’s doubleheader, begins at 5 p.m.

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