VERMILLION — Seventeen first half points doesn’t typically lead to a five-point lead at the intermission, but that was the situation for the University of South Dakota Coyotes women’s basketball team Friday night in snowy Vermillion.

After shooting 7-for-28 in the first half, The Coyotes managed to hold a 17-12 lead on Valparaiso at the intermission. The game was tied at 10 after one quarter and the Coyotes didn’t allow a made basket in the second quarter to grow the lead.

“I think it’s who our identity is,” USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said of the team’s defensive performance the last two games. “We’ve really set our mind to it early on, and really gotten to the point where we are really confident in who we are defensively.”

The Coyotes pulled away in the second half to take down Valparaiso 51-31 Friday night inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

“They scored 31 points and that’s a team that’s averaging 57 points a game against some really good teams,” Maddie Krull said. “I think our defensive effort was there today.”

The Coyote offense opened up in the second half as they started the third quarter on a 12-0 run. Valparaiso ended a 14:50 made basket drought with a Shay Frederick three-pointer. The basket ended a USD 19-2 run that started at the beginning of the second quarter. Valparaiso went on a 7-0 run to cut the USD lead back to 10 at 29-19 with 2:51 to play in the third quarter.

The Coyotes weathered the storm but using the last 2:51 of the third quarter to go on an 8-0 run of their own to lead 37-19 after three quarters.

“Sometimes it can be hard when you’re not scoring efficiently to stay locked in defensively, but I thought our young ladies really did that,” Plitzuweit said.

The Coyote lead continued to grow in the fourth quarter, stretching it out to a 22-point lead with five minutes to play. Valparaiso pushed back in the final five minutes but didn’t have enough to overcome the deficit. Grace Larkins tallied five points in the closing minutes to keep the Coyotes ahead by double figures and Macy Guebert drained a three-pointer to stretch the Coyote lead back out to 20.

Chloe Lamb led all scorers with 11 points on the night. Liv Korngable and Hannah Sjerven added 10 points apiece. Krull picked up eight points and Kyah Watson 11 rebounds to go with four points.

“I think Kyah has a lot of offensive abilities and has just, kind of, deferred at this point in time,” Plitzuweit said. “Our goal is to get her to be as aggressive offensively as she is defensively, and she can make an awful lot happen.”

Grace White led Valparaiso with nine points. Shay Frederick added eight points.

The Coyotes have one last tune-up before conference play when they travel to Omaha, Nebraska to take on Creighton. The Coyotes are at Creighton Dec. 16 before conference play opens at Oral Roberts Dec. 20.

“Creighton is a good team, and they can also shoot the ball really well,” Krull said. “Valpo is a team that is shooting at a very high clip, so to play against a team where we had to figure out how to guard them and how to excel and not give them uncontested shots is huge in preparing us for Creighton.”

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VALPARAISO (0-9)

Grace White 1-10 6-6 9, Carie Weinman 1-5 0-0 2, Cara VanKempen 0-3 0-0 0, Caitlin Morrison 1-5 0-0 3, Shay Frederick 3-7 0-0 8, Olivia Brown 1-3 2-2 5, Leah Earnest 1-3 2-2 4, Maya Dunson 0-3 0-0 0. TOTALS: 8-39 10-10 31.

SOUTH DAKOTA (6-4)

Liv Korngable 4-10 2-2 10, Chloe Lamb 5-11 0-0 11, Kyah Watson 1-6 2-2 4, Hannah Sjerven 4-11 2-2 10, Maddie Krull 3-7 2-2 8, Grace Larkins 2-6 0-0 5, Natalie Mazurek 0-2 0-0 0, Macy Guebert 1-3 0-0 3, Jeniah Ugofsky 0-0 0-0 0. Allison Peplowski 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20-56 8-8 51.

VALPARAISO 10 2 7 12 — 31

SOUTH DAKOTA 10 7 20 14 — 51

Three-Pointers: VU 5-25 (Frederic 2-6, White 1-5, Morrison 1-5, Brown 1-2, Weinman 0-1, Van Kempen 0-3, Earnest 0-1, Dunson 0-2), USD 3-15 (Lamb 1-4, Larkins 1-1, Guebert 1-2, Korngable 0-2, Watson 0-2, Sjerven 0-2, Krull 0-1, Mazurek 0-1). Rebounds: USD 38 (Watson 11), VU 25 (White 7). Assists: USD 8 (Lamb 3), VU 5 (Weinman 2). Steals: USD 9 (Watson 3), VU 6 (White 2). Blocked Shots: VU 3, USD 2. Personal Fouls: VU 15, USD 12. Fouled Out: None. Turnovers: VU 23, USD 15.

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