South Dakota freshman guard Allison Arens surpassed the 20-point mark for the second consecutive game and senior center Abigail Fogg added a career high 18 as the Coyotes defeated Stephen F. Austin 80-74 in the grand opening of the Sanford Coyote Sports Center Sunday afternoon.
South Dakota (2-0) has won four consecutive home openers and improves to 38-8 all-time in home opening games.
“Today was an exciting opportunity to open up at home in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center,” said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “What a great atmosphere to play a game in. I thought our players handled themselves and their nerves well. They faced adversity in a couple of different scenarios – in the first half we were not able guard them from the arc and were scored on efficiently. Stephen F. Austin is a team that shoots the ball very well. We battled back and changed how we were defending.
“In the end, we were able to turn them over and I think that gave us some momentum. Stephen F. Austin is a veteran crew who didn’t quit and continued to battle and pressure us. All in all, our players found a way.”
Arens tallied 21 points two days after scoring a career high 28. She added six assists, four rebounds and three steals to her stat line. Eight of Arens’ points came from the free-throw line with six in the final 2:23 of the game.
Fogg’s career high came on an impressive 80 percent shooting (8-of-10) from the field. One of her two missed field goals was outside the arc.
Sophomore guard Jaycee Bradley was the third Coyote to reach double figures with 13 points. Freshman guard Madison McKeever added nine points and swiped away a team-high four steals. The Coyotes tallied 15 steals in the game and capitalized with 31 points off turnovers.
“The way this offense is designed, different people will perform better on different nights,” Fogg said.
Stephen F. Austin (0-1) drained five of their first seven 3-point attempts to jump out to an eight point lead. Ladyjack forward Stevi Parker led the team with 19 points and twice scored the bucket that put SFA up by eight. Teammates Taylor Jackson and Taylor Ross added 17 and 13 points, respectively, for the Ladyjacks. Jackson was 5-of-6 from downtown.
The Coyotes’ biggest lead of 15 points followed a layup by McKeever with 4:18 remaining. The Ladyjacks made seven consecutive free throws to close the gap to eight.
South Dakota shot half as many 3-pointers as in the season opener, instead looking inside and driving to the basket. The result was making 28-of-47 (59.6 percent) from the field. South Dakota shot above .500 a total of 11 times last season with each of those games resulting in a win.
Stephen F. Austin made 18-of-47 (38.3 percent) from the field and 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) from downtown. Seven of the Ladyjacks’ 10 threes came in the first half on 70 percent efficiency.
The Ladyjacks outrebounded the Coyotes 31-24 by pulling down 16 offensive boards. SFA put up 15 second-chance points to the Coyotes’ four. Ladyjack center Adrienne Lewis grabbed four of the team’s offensive rebounds.
The Coyotes enter a four-game road stretch starting a game at Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Thursday at 7 p.m.
South Dakota christened its new facility, the Sanford Coyote Sports Center, with a 78-72 win against Bowling Green Sunday before a crowd of 3,017. It was the second win in three days for the Coyotes (2-0) who are off to their best start since 2007. Bowling Green of the MAC fell to 0-2.
South Dakota outscored Bowling Green 16-5 during the final five minutes of the second half. The Coyotes held the Falcons to 1 of 10 shooting down the stretch while closing out the game by hitting 10 of 14 free throws. Trey Burch-Manning put the game out of reach with a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left that put the Coyotes ahead 77-72.
It was a back-and-forth contest throughout. Bowling Green led 20-13 12 minutes in. The Coyotes closed the first half on a 10-0 run and began the second half on a 9-2 spurt to lead 42-29. The Falcons flew back in front to lead 67-62 with five minutes to go. But it was the Coyotes who flourished down the stretch.
Burch-Manning had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double. Carlton Hurst, whose fast-break slam over a defender, broke a 55-55 tie with 8:28 left, had 13 points. Tyler Flack swatted six shots, two shy of his career high, and had 12 points. Trey Dickerson scored nine of his 10 points in the first half to help put USD ahead 33-27 at the break.
Rasheed Worrell came off the bench to lead Bowling Green with 14 points. Wes Alcegaire has 12 points and six rebounds. Ismail Ali had 11 points to go with six assists.
Both teams knocked down six triples, had six steals and 12 turnovers. Bowling Green used 15 offensive rebounds to get 23 points. The Coyotes boasted a 24-14 edge from the free-throw line.
Mooney hit back-to-back jumpers to put the Coyotes in front 71-69 with two minutes to go. Alcegaire answered with a pair of free throws to knot the game at 71-71 with 1:35 remaining, but picked up his fifth foul and Triston Simpson made both freebies to put USD back in front for good. Simpson made another pair with 32 ticks left to extend the lead to 75-71.
Ali made 1 of 2 from the line with 28 seconds left to make it a one-possession game and Bowling Green had a possession to inch closer. But Hurst blocked Ali’s shot at the rim and Burch-Manning rebounded, was fouled, and made both free throws.
The Coyotes stay home to host Presentation Wednesday and Doane Thursday. Both games start at 7 p.m.