VERMILLION — Urgency.

That was one of the goals for the nationally-ranked South Dakota women’s basketball team.

Put a foot on the gas pedal right away and keep it there.

“That’s definitely something we’ve been working on as a team, playing with urgency all the time,” senior Ciara Duffy said after Sunday afternoon’s 96-64 rout of Montana at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

And not wait until halfway through the first quarter to get rolling, added Duffy, who also dished out nine assists.

To that point, the No. 21-ranked Coyotes (11-1) jumped out to a 26-14 lead after one quarter and then 52-32 at halftime.

“I think it was definitely a good start for us,” Duffy said.

Of course, when you’ve won 11 of 12 games — including three over Power 5 conference opponents — to start the season, it’s not like you frequently have to dig out of early holes.

But the Coyotes have wanted to come stronger on the defensive end, according to head coach Dawn Plitzuweit.

“When we started the season, we hadn’t done as good with it, especially on the defensive end,” she said.

And even though the Grizzlies (4-4) made half of their shots in the first quarter, the Coyotes were still well in front.

It stayed that way through the rest of the game, as well.

“It’s definitely something we focus on in the pregame talk,” said junior Hannah Sjerven, who tallied 18 points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

“We don’t want to come in at half and have to start over again.”

The Coyotes made 15-of-26 three-pointers, recorded 21 assists, scored 44 points in the paint and got 36 points from reserves.

Defensively, they held Montana to nine field goals after halftime and 41 percent shooting for the game.

“Our plan coming in defensively was to stick to what we do,” Duffy said. “We did that well at times, but at times they imposed their will.”

The battle with the Grizzlies will help the Coyotes, Duffy added.

“Playing athletic teams; scrappy, defensive teams is always going to make us better,” she said.

Junior reserve Liv Korngable added 13 points for the Coyotes, while senior reserve Taylor Frederick had 12 points and senior Madison McKeever chipped in with nine points.

South Dakota is now off until next Sunday when it plays at No. 5-ranked South Carolina.

Follow @jhoeck on Twitter

MONTANA (4-4)

Abby Anderson 1-2 0-0 2; Emma Stockholm 6-13 0-0 12; Sophia stiles 2-5 2-2 6; Gabi Harrington 3-6 0-0 8; Mckenzie Johnston 3-7 8; Kylie Frohlich 1-3 1-2 3; Taylor Goligoski 2-5 5-5 ; Jamie Pickens 3-8 3-4 10; Madi Schoening 1-5 4-4 6. TOTALS 22-54 16-19 64.

SOUTH DAKOTA (11-1)

Hannah Sjerven 8-14 0-0 18; Monica Arens 1-3 0-0 3; Chloe Lamb 3-5 0-0 7; Madison McKeever 3-7 0-0 9; Ciara Duffy 9-12 0-0 23; Claudia Kunzer 0-0 0-0 0; Taylor Frederick 5-7 2-2 12; Liv Korngable 5-6 1-2 13; Jeniah Ugofsky 0-2 2-2 2; Megan Bonar 0-2 0-0 0; Macy Guebert 1-3 0-0 2; Regan Sankey 1-2 0-0 2; Alexi Hempe 2-2 0-0 5. TOTALS 38-65 5-6 96.

MONTANA 14 18 16 16 — 64

SOUTH DAKOTA 26 26 26 18 — 96

Three-Pointers — USD 15-26 (Duffy 5-6, McKeever 3-6, Korngable 2-2, Sjerven 2-3, Arens 1-1, Hempe 1-1, Lamb 1-3, Ugofsky 0-1, Sankey 0-1, Guebert 0-2), MON 4-11 (Harrington 2-3, Pickens 1-1, Johnston 1-2, Stiles 0-1, Schoening 0-1, Stockholm 0-2). Total Rebounds — MON 30 (Pickens 5), USD 28 (Sjerven 7). Assists — USD 21 (Duffy 9), MON 15 (Johnston 4). Turnovers — MON 15, USD 8. Personal Fouls — USD 16, MON 15. Fouled Out — None.

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