The saying goes you live and die by the three-point shot. South Dakota’s first half three-point shooting spree carried them to an 83-70 victory over NDSU in Summit League women’s basketball action Thursday.
The Coyotes shot a scorching 66.7 percent from behind the arc in the first half as the Bison struggled to make their open shots. In all, USD made 10 threes, with a number of them halting any Bison attempt at a comeback in the second half.
“I think this is honestly the most disappointing we’ve played as a team,” sophomore forward Marena Whittle said. “Especially in that first half.”
With both teams sitting at 1-4 in the conference, the Coyotes simply played as the better team. USD won almost every statistical category as they held control of the game all 40 minutes.
NDSU fell behind 16-8 early off a Tia Hemiller three pointer. Hemiller nailed all five of her field goal attempts in the first half as USD shot 56.7 percent from the field in the opening stanza.
The Bison battled back, but USD had an answer for everything. Two Raeshel Contreras three pointers in quick succession extended the lead to 38-25. USD went 6-of-9 on threes in the first half, helping them to a 46-35 halftime lead.
“I think at the beginning of the game, we came out really slow and lethargic,” Whittle said. “They were definitely the aggressor, in the first half especially. And I think that sort of took us a little bit by shock I guess, and we just couldn’t get back from that.”
Miki Stephenson sunk a jumper to begin the second half for the Bison, but USD again responded immediately with a 7-0 run. The Bison exchanged baskets all second half with the Coyotes and finally reduced the lead to a single-point margin with 4:55 remaining after two Whittle free throws. But Contreras answered with a three and then added another on USD’s next possession to extend the lead to 76-64.
Contreras finished with 28 points, hitting 6-of-9 threes in 30 minutes.
“They were hitting some really good shots, some important shots,” Whittle said. “And it was just hard to get back, and they would just get a score and push it out again. Credit to the girls for keep fighting, but it’s just something we need to work on.”
Whittle, Holly Johnson and Brook LeMar led the Bison with 13 points each. NDSU connected on only 33.3 percent of its second-half shots, resulting in the comeback falling short.
“Basketball is a game of 40 minutes and two halves put together,” Whittle said. “We can’t just play one half each game. We have to come out and play both halves.”