Western Illinois Hands Coyote Women First Home Loss
USD Falls For First Time At Sanford Coyote Sports Center 86-78
VERMILLION, S.D.–Western Illinois guards Morgan Blumer and Emily Clemens tallied 28 and 24 points, respectively, as the Leathernecks outran South Dakota 86-78 on Saturday inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
The Leathernecks (16-6, 6-3 Summit League) end the Coyotes’ 24-game home winning streak and snap their own two-game skid. It was the first loss inside the Sports Center for South Dakota (18-4, 7-2 Summit League), who won their first 10 at home this season.
“This was an eye-opening experience for our team,” said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “All season long, we have worked on developing the ability to do more than one thing on the court. Western Illinois is a team that plays five true guards. To match them, you either have to go at them or be able to take advantage of them inside. This experience will help us in learning how to read our opponents and make decisions.”
The Coyotes outscored the Leathernecks 47-40 in the second half, but were unable to overcome a 15-point halftime deficit.
South Dakota sophomore guard Allison Arens scored 27 points on 66.7 percent (8-of-12) shooting. Arens also grabbed seven boards and blocked a pair of shots. Sophomore guard Jaycee Bradley and junior center Kate Liveringhouse would also reach double digits with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Blumer, who made Sports Center’s Top 10 earlier this week with a buzzer shot from the far free-throw line, tallied her 10th consecutive double-digit game. She had six threes on Saturday in reaching 28 points. Clemens posted a double-double with 24 points and a career high 13 assists. Guard Taylor Higginbotham was the third Leatherneck in double figures with 16 points, nine boards and five steals.
Western Illinois jumped out to an early lead with 7:16 to go in the first and held it the remainder of the game. The Leathernecks’ quick pace of play forced 15 first-half turnovers by the Coyotes and gave them 29 points-off turnovers in the game. Their largest lead of 18 points came midway through the second quarter after a 9-0 run.
Liveringhouse scored 10 of her 11 points in a five-minute span of the third quarter. The Coyotes shot 58.8 percent in the third to outscore the Leathernecks 25-20.
South Dakota would close the gap to three twice in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Arens hit a three with 2:06 to play, but an unintentional foul on the other end sent Clemens to the line for two. Freshman guard Madsion McKeever hit a jumper in the lane with 1:09 to go that made it 81-78. McKeever would be called for a foul when trying to force a steal that again sent Clemens to the line.
Western Illinois would finish 3-for-6 from the free-throw line in the remaining time to give the Leathernecks an 8-point win.
With a pair of starters in foul trouble, redshirt-freshman Megan Bonar and McKeever saw extended minutes off the bench. Both tallied seven points, McKeever had six assists and Bonar had five boards with four on the offensive end. Freshman forward Taylor Frederick added six rebounds. The Coyote bench tallied 28 points.
Elsewhere in the Summit League on Saturday, Omaha defeated South Dakota State on a last-second 3-pointer. Both the Coyotes and the Jackrabbits remain tied for first at 7-2. Western Illinois and IUPUI are tied for third at 6-3.
South Dakota travels to Denver for its first of three consecutive road games at 8 p.m. (CT) Wednesday.