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Coyotes Fall to Colorado in WNIT

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VERMILLION, S.D. - - The South Dakota women’s basketball team cut a 16-point deficit to five in the final minute but the Coyotes’ rally fell short in a 64-55 loss to Pac 12 foe Colorado in the second round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament (WNIT) Monday night in Vermillion, S.D. The Coyotes ended their season – their best since moving to Division I – with a 23-8 mark, while Colorado improved to 20-13.


Senior Amber Hegge (Crofton, Neb.) capped off a magnificent Coyote career with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Senior Annie Roche (Vermillion, S.D.) also wrapped up a stellar career with 14 points, while junior Tempestt Wilson (Elk River, Minn.) added 12. Senior Jodie Boss added to her career blocked shots record with four blocks, while junior guard Alexis Yackley (Onida, S.D.) added five points, five rebounds, three assists and a team-high three steals.


“They’re a very good team. You saw their athleticism – it was pretty disruptive,” South Dakota head coach Ryun Williams said. “We fought and gave it everything we had. It was hard to establish that decent confident and tempo, and Colorado had a lot to do with that.”


All-Pac 12 first-team selection Chucky Jeffery led the Buffaloes with a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds. Colorado shot 40.3 percent (25-of-62) for the game, compared to 38.8 percent (19-of-49) for the Coyotes. The Buffaloes held a decisive 47-25 edge in rebounding.


Hosting a school from a BCS conference for the first time since 1984, the Coyote women put forth a valiant effort before seeing their rally fall short.


Colorado built a 44-28 lead with 13:50 left on a layup by Lexy Kresl. South Dakota then responded with a 14-7 spurt to cut the lead to single digits at 51-42 with 7:07 left. Hegge had five points during that run while Wilson had four, while Yackley drained a three to cut the lead to nine.


Colorado pushed the lead back to 11, but a three by Roche and a layup by Boss brought the Coyotes within 53-47 with 4:34 left – the closest they had been since early in the second half.


The Buffaloes pushed the lead back to nine with 1:00 left, and Hegge and Wilson each hit two free throws to bring the Coyotes within 58-53 – the closest they had been since the first half. However, their rally fell short, as Colorado hit 4-of-4 free throws in the final 48 seconds to help secure the win.


“That’s the one thing I love about our group – how they compete every single night,” Williams said. “This group really competed. That was evident tonight – we were down 16, but we didn’t fold. We found a way to claw back into this thing. It just wasn’t enough.”


South Dakota led 3-0 in the first minute when Hegge converted a three-point play, but that was prove to be the Coyotes’ only lead of the night. Colorado answered with a crucial 13-0 run to take a 13-3 lead, and from there, the Coyotes played catch-up.


The Coyotes were down 26-14 with 4:04 left in the first half but came back with a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 26-23. Hegge was the catalyst during the run with seven points, while freshman Kelly Stewart (Amery, Wis.) added a jumper. Jeffery, however, hit two key baskets in the final minute to push the Colorado lead to 30-23 at halftime.


Hegge had 10 points in the first half for the Coyotes, who shot 39.1 percent (9-of-23) from the field in the first half. Colorado shot 42.9 percent (12-of-28).


The Buffaloes opened the second half with a 14-5 run over the first 6:10 to stretch the lead to 16 before the Coyotes mounted their rally.


The game marked the end of the careers of the three Coyote seniors – Hegge, Roche and Boss.  The three players combined for 3,359 points, 1,615 rebounds, 421 blocks, 237 three-pointers, 659 assists and 278 steals during their time at South Dakota, in addition to helping the Coyotes to back-to-back postseason appearances.


“A 23-8 season – it was fun to be part of that ride,” Williams said “Hegge, Roche and Boss – those three seniors, this is the season that they have worked for. It didn’t end great tonight, but our season was outstanding. We have a lot to be proud of.”

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