If major college basketball was a 1-on-1 game it's fair to say the University of South Dakota Coyote women's basketball team would have been doomed Saturday at the DakotaDome.
Thankfully, it takes five players working as one and that was what allowed USD to show Oral Roberts University who was boss in a key Summit League contest.
The Coyotes overcame a monster 32-point, 17-rebound performance by Golden Eagle Vicky McIntyre to record a 93-70 win over ORU and avenge a 16-point loss to the same team three weeks ago in Tulsa.
USD (17-5, 7-2) stay atop the Summit standings behind a balanced effort paced by the 21-point performance by Kate Liveringhouse, 19 points from Raeshel Contreras, 11 points from Kelly Stewart and 10 points by Bridget Arens.
“It was a good team win and it seems like that our team does play its best when we have a lot of people contributing and we had contributions from all over the place,” USD head coach Amy Williams said. “Kate really stepped up and played huge minutes and did not play intimidated going up against a tough foe.
“When we played Oral Roberts at their place we had 21 turnovers and were not as effective as moving the ball around. That was our focus for us in preparation for this game…continue to attack, put the pressure on, find ways to share the ball and make them work defensively. We were much more successful this time around with that.”
The Coyotes also outrebounded Oral Roberts 36-31 and forced 17 Golden Eagle turnovers compared to their eight.
Additionally, the Coyote bench pulverized the Oral Roberts' subs to the tune of 46-9.
“We know we went to their house and didn’t play Coyote basketball at all,” Contreras said. “We were lucky enough to have a chance to play them here and we took advantage of it.
“(The bench play is going to help) because teams are going to lock in on (the starters) and when they lock in on us the other players are going to step up like they always do. Today our bench did a great, great, great job.”
USD trailed 7-5 at the first media timeout as the Golden Eagles' ran right through the Coyote defense for three easy layups early on.
ORU (10-12, 4-5) went inside plenty from the get-go to the 6-7 senior
McIntyre who popped in a couple of baskets but the Coyote freshman Liveringhouse would not be undone.
The USD youngster, giving up six inches on her towering counterpart, had no issue taking the ball at the Golden Eagle, scoring consecutive shots to give the hosts a 14-13 eight minutes into the game.
Over the course of the contest Liveringhouse's point-per-minute output was nearly equal to McIntyre's (21 points in 24 minutes compared to 32 in 38).
“I thought about what might be affective against her and our game plan was to make sure we got it inside and that helped cleared a lot of things up and got other things open as well,” Liveringhouse said. “I think attacking her was the best thing to do for the whole team and it really worked.
“It’s nice to be able to come in and give the team a spark and help those players who do need the help. Especially recently it’s good for us to have people who off the bench (can play well).”
Williams was pleased with her freshman post’s play and hopes it just adds more ingredients to an already successful recipe for Coyote success.
“I think it’s huge because any time those bench players can step up and give great contribution it helps build their confidence and know that they are going to be counted on to bring something to the table,” Williams said.
“We have had several different kids, like Heidi (Hoff), Kelly, and Bridget on different night step up and bring that big game. Tonight it was Kate and I hope for her sake that really shows her what she is capable of doing.”
The Coyotes weren't bashful attacking the tin and built a five-point with their prowess inside the arc.
Then they began to flirt a bit more with the three-point line as Contreras banged in a left corner bomb with 7:15 to go in the first half for a 23-17 USD advantage.
A little later Tia Hemiller splashed the cash from deep and USD had its biggest lead at 30-21 with 4:32 remaining before intermission beckoned.
Blood is the color red which runs deep in USD's world and it was all about the Coyotes casting the deepest cuts as they increased the lead to 34-21 with ferocious forays at the rim.
Stewart then banged home another USD triple and the team led 37-23 with 90 seconds before the halftime buzzer.
USD led 41-23 at halftime behind a blistering defensive effort that made
ORU grind for every shot attempt and if not for McIntyre's 12 points things would have been much worse for the Golden Eagles.
McIntyre came in averaging 13 points and 15 rebounds per game.
Also the USD bench dominated their counterpart's second unit 19-0 over the first 20 minutes.
Oral Roberts pulled to within 45-33 in less than four minutes after halftime as the Coyotes missed a few bunnies and McIntyre kept up her interior success.
Yet every time the Golden Eagles looked to make an ample run the Coyotes would quash those delusions of grandeur with a three-pointer by Stewart or a hoop-and-harm for Nicole Seekamp.
Then USD went in for the kill with a key run sparked by some big shots by Stewart including a leaner with 10 minutes remaining to give the Coyotes a 20-point edge.
Contreras' third 3-bomb gave the Coyotes a 69-48 lead and the win slowly moved closer to reality.
A few minutes later Liveringhouse scored in transition and drew the foul on a lagging McIntyre which incurred a technical on an ORU teammate.
The USD knockout of the Golden Eagles was official.
“We were so hungry for this game,” Contreras said. “We had this game marked on our calendar and we wanted to come out ready and throw the first punch.”
University of South Dakota women def. Oral Roberts 93-70
Halftime Score: USD 41-23; 3-point field goals: ORU 4-9 (Jordan Doyle 3-4, Dorottya Balla 1-3), USD 9-15 (Raeshel Contreras 4-7, Kelly Stewart 2-2, Tia Hemiller 2-3, Lisa Loeffler 1-1); Rebounds: ORU 31 (Vicky McIntyre 17), USD 36 (Heidi Hoff, Margaret McCloud 5); Assists: ORU 14 (McIntyre 3), USD 22 (Nicole Seekamp 6); Steals: ORU 1 (McIntyre), USD 10 (Seekamp 4); Blocked Shots: ORU 7 (McIntyre 5), USD 2 (two players with 1); Fouls: ORU 19, USD 15; Fouled Out: None. Turnovers: ORU 17, USD 8. Attendance: 1,625.