A new head coach, a new starting lineup and a new offensive scheme required an adjustment period at the start of the game, but South Dakota used a strong second half showing to defeat Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 75-68 at the Sanford Pentagon Friday night.
South Dakota (1-0) holds the nation’s second-longest winning streak in the nation with seven games after winning the Women’s National Invitation Tournament last season. SIUE (0-1), who is 23-14 all-time in season openers, drops its second opener to the Coyotes with the first coming in 1985.
In her first collegiate start, sophomore guard Allison Arens scored a career high 28 points and pulled down a career high seven rebounds. She added four assists and a steal to her tally. Arens shot 64.3 percent (9-of-14) from the field and made 7-of-9 from the free-throw line.
The Coyotes used a 20-6 run to start the second half and jump out to a 19-point lead. South Dakota would reach a game-high 19 point lead twice more in the third quarter. The Coyotes shot 60 percent (9-of-15) from the field in the third.
Sophomore guard Jaycee Bradley, one point shy of her career high at 16 points, kicked off the run by sinking a pair of back-to-back threes. Freshman guard Ciara Duffy would follow with her own seven point run. Duffy finished with 19 points and six rebounds. Senior forward Bridget Arens handed out four assists, two during the run, and pulled down seven rebounds. Arens accrued her fifth collegiate start.
SIUE was led by guard Nakiah Bell’s 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from downtown. Guard Lauren White added 16 points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from the line.
Cougar center Gwen Adams drilled a three-pointer from the top of the arc to bring the game back within three points, 69-66, with 2:11 on the clock. Adams had seven points and a team-high seven rebounds.
A three-point play by Duffy and three defensive rebounds forced the Cougars to foul in the final seconds, allowing the Coyotes to pull away 75-68.
South Dakota shot 41 percent (25-of-61) from the field as a team, while SIUE hit 19-of-49 (38.8 percent). The Coyotes led the Cougars in the paint 30-12 and in points off turnovers 15-10.
South Dakota opens the Sanford Coyote Sports Center at 1 p.m. Sunday against Stephen F. Austin. The game is the first half of a grand opening double header with the men to follow at 3:15 p.m.