BROOKINGS — Talk about a dominating finish.
Or, as the winning coach put it, a “great finish for us.”
South Dakota State, the No. 23-ranked women’s basketball team in Division I, scored the final 13 points of the fourth quarter to rally past rival South Dakota 80-75 on Saturday evening at Frost Arena.
Just as suddenly as it felt like the Coyotes might exact revenge from a loss the previous day, the tables were turned.
And in a big way.
“Those last three minutes, we were as good as we absolutely had to be,” said SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston, whose squad improved to 15-2 overall and 8-0 in the Summit League.
South Dakota built a 75-67 with 2:56 remaining on a Jeniah Ugofsky three-pointer.
That’s when everything changed.
The Jackrabbits answered with a Paiton Burckhard three-pointer with 2:31 left to get within five, and then a basket by Myah Selland at the 1:36 mark cut the margin to 75-72.
Another Selland basket, with 56 seconds remaining, made it 75-74, and a Tylee Irwin shot in the lane gave SDSU the lead for good.
Out of a timeout with 11 seconds on the clock, the Jackrabbits stole an inbounds pass from USD’s Maddie Krull — Tori Nelson was fouled on the play and proceeded to make two free throws to stretch the lead to 78-75.
“That’s a play that has happened to me before, so I know exactly what it’s going thorugh your head ,and you wish you could get it back,” USD’s Chloe Lamb said of the inbounds turnover.
That specific play, however, is not what lost USD the game, Lamb added.
“Every play beforehand mattered,” she said. “We just have to make sure that we focus on each and every assingment; each and every play. Coach P always says every play matters.”
What loomed even larger for the Coyotes in the final three minutes was the zero points on 0-of-3 shooting.
Lamb missed a three-pointer with five seconds left, and the Jacks were fouled on the rebound and closed things out with two more free throws.
“We weren’t really able to get the opportunities,” USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.
The Coyotes did, she added, get a pretty decent pull-up jumper from Liv Korngable on one possession in that stretch, but it obviously didn’t fall.
“We didn’t get great opportunities, so that’s on me,” Plitzuweit said.
The Coyotes (10-5, 6-2) were, however, significantly more efficient on offense Saturday than they were the previous day in a 64-45 loss.
South Dakota had made 28 percent of its shots in the first game of the series, but responded to shoot 53 percent on Saturday.
“Offensively, we changed quite a bit of our movement, and I thought our kids adjusted to it really well,” Plitzuweit said.
On Friday, the USD trio of Lamb, Liv Korngable and Hannah Sjerven shot a combined 13-of-45 for 29 percent.
On Saturday, that trio combined to make 17-of-33 of their shots. Lamb led the way with 18 points, while Sjerven had 16 points and nine rebounds. Korngable chipped in with 15 points.
It appeared as though the Coyotes were set to find more space for their perimeter players on Saturday, according to Johnston.
“They were more downhill, coming at us,” he said. “They had a really good plan; a different plan.
“I still think our defense wasn’t as good as it needs to be.”
Offensively, however, the Jacks were effective enough.
Selland finished with 26 points, while Burckhard had 22 points and five rebounds. Irwin added 12 points and four rebounds, and Nelson scored 11 points.
Answering Friday’s struggles with a solid performance Saturday was paramount for the Coyotes, especially to come out with more fight, according to Lamb.
“We didn’t really have anything to lose today, and I wanted our young girls to know that,” said Lamb, who joked that she perhaps needed to be remind of that as well.
“(Friday), I didn’t shoot very well, and today I was trying to play more relaxed and more loose.”
With the sweep of the Coyotes, the Jackrabbits now essentially control their own destiny for the regular season title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
The Jacks, though, are pumping the breaks on that thought.
“I don’t know that we’ll look at it that way or talk about it that way,” Johnston said.
His team will approach this next week the same as it has all season, he added.
“It’s not exciting, but that’s the plan,” Johnston said. “And I think our team has bought into that, and that’s why they’re in this position.”
Next weekend, the Coyotes will play North Dakota up in Grand Forks while the Jacks head south to play Oral Roberts down in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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