Eleven months ago, it was a post-season title. Now, the University of South Dakota women have added a regular season crown.

The fact that they might have to share it is all the motivation the Coyotes need to go out and capture the outright crown.

“We’re definitely hungry after this win,” said senior Nicole Seekamp, who scored 13 points in USD’s 69-53 Summit League win over IUPUI on Thursday night at the DakotaDome.

“We really don’t want to share it.”

The first-place Coyotes (22-6, 12-3) can clinch the outright title with a win Saturday against Western Illinois – no matter what South Dakota State, which is one game back, does that day.

“I think we’re ready for Saturday,” said Coyote junior point guard Tia Hemiller. “We know what it’s going to take to win.

“We don’t want to share it.”

The performance Thursday from USD was a far cry from the first meeting in Indianapolis. That day, the Coyotes committed 21 turnovers and had their lowest offensive output (43) of the season.

That outcome was no doubt mentioned a couple times this week.

“(There were) some gentle reminders about that 25-point shellacking, and how that felt,” joked head coach Amy Williams.

In response, the Coyotes were aggressive against a team that plays four girls who stand at least 6-foot. South Dakota had a 32-16 edge in points in the paint, and turned 17 IUPUI turnovers into 16 points.

For a team that consistently stresses defense, its coach lauded the attention to detail.

“I thought it was one of our best defensive performances of the year,” Williams said. “We were focused and locked in on our defensive game plan. I’m extremely proud of the way we carried that out.”

The game’s only drama was limited to the opening minutes. The Coyotes built a double-digit lead late in the first half and never let the Jaguars (14-14, 9-6) within single digits for the game’s final 24 minutes.

Though they didn’t reach 80 points in a home game for the first time this season, the Coyotes were balanced. Seekamp led with 13 points, while senior Lisa Loeffler had 10 points, three others had nine points, and two reserves scored eight points.

“We just kind of contribute and pass to whoever’s open,” Seekamp said. “That will be something other team will have to reckon with.”

For the first time in five games, Hemiller started. And the Watertown native responded.

She scored nine points and grabbed eight rebounds in 26 minutes – 10 more than she played at SDSU last Saturday.

“I’m just so thankful to be back,” she said, with a smile.

The win also mark’s USD’s first regular season league title – shared or outright – since the 2007-08 season, when the Coyotes won the North Central Conference and lost in the Division II national championship game.

The task now is to capture the program’s first outright Division I conference title.

What won’t change, though, is how the Coyotes prepare themselves for Saturday’s game against Western Illinois, according to Williams.

“We’ll continue to approach things the way we always have,” she said. “It’s the next opportunity for our team to become the best team we can become.”

IUPUI (14-14, 9-6)

Kelsi Byrd 1-4 0-0 2; Danielle Lawrence 1-7 4-8 6; Shaquira Scott 3-9 5-6 11; Akilah Sims 3-10 1-2 8; Nevena Markovic 2-5 0-0 4; Nicole Rogers 0-0 0-0 0; Caitlyn Tolen 3-5 0-0 7; Shawnece Teague 1-2 0-0 2; Jenna Gunn 4-6 2-3 10; Mikale Rogers 0-4 3-4 3. TOTALS 18-52 15-23 53.

SOUTH DAKOTA (22-6, 12-3)

Tia Hemiller 4-7 0-0 9; Raeshel Contreras 4-10 1-1 9; Margaret McCloud 4-7 1-2 9; Nicole Seekamp 4-11 3-4 13; Lisa Loeffler 4-5 1-2 10; Kelly Stewart 0-7 0-0 0; Taylor Moore 0-0 0-0 0; Bridget Arens 2-5 4-4 8; Jaylah Jackson 0-1 0-0 0; Kate Liveringhouse 3-6 2-4 8; Heidi Hoff 1-2 0-2 3. TOTALS 26-61 12-19 69.

Halftime: USD 37-26. Three-Pointers: USD 5-14 (Seekamp 2-3, Loeffler 1-1, Hoff 1-2, Hemiller 1-3, Stewart 0-1, Jackson 0-1, Contreras 0-3), IUPUI 2-11 (Tolen 1-2, Sims 1-3, Byrd 0-1, Scott 0-1, Lawrence 0-2, Markovic 0-2). Total Rebounds: IUPUI 41 (Markovic 7), USD 35 (Hemiller 8). Assists: USD 14 (Seekamp 5), IUPUI 11 (Byrd 3, Tolen 3). Turnovers: IUPUI 17, USD 8. Personal Fouls: USD 18, IUPUI 16. Fouled Out: None. Attendance: 1443.


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