SIOUX FALLS, SD (Courtesy Summit League) — Second seed South Dakota won a physical battle with No. 6 seed North Dakota Monday in the Summit League semifinals, advancing with an 84-61 victory behind a balanced-scoring attack.
South Dakota showed its defensive prowess early, holding the Fighting Hawks scoreless for the opening six minutes while building a 13-0 lead. North Dakota stayed the course, however, and after trailing 20-10 at the quarter break used a burst of eight unanswered in the second to crawl within five (23-18) at 7:07.
A pair of Faith Dooley free throws three minutes later pulled the Fighting Hawks to 29-27, but USD held North Dakota at bay down the stretch and carried a 40-33 lead into the locker room.
The Coyotes came out strong in the third quarter, extending its lead into double figures before the six-minute mark with a 10-0 run. USD shot nearly 70 percent for the quarter and pushed its lead over 20 on a pair of Hannah Sjerven free throws at 3:00.
Down 66-44 after three, North Dakota tested South Dakota once more in the fourth, putting together a 13-3 rally midway through the quarter. The Coyotes countered with a 12-2 run of their own, however, to finish out the win.
Allison Arens and Ciara Cuffy led the Coyote attack with 17 points each, as Arens was 7-of-9 from the field and Duffy had a trio of 3-pointers with six rebounds. Arens’ eight boards led USD as well, as the senior guard narrowly missed a double-double.
Taylor Frederick had 15 points and Madison McKeever rounded out the top Coyote scorers with 10, hitting all eight of her free throw attempts.
Three Fighting Hawks were in double figures, as Melissa Dailey paced the squad with 17. Jill Morton and Lexi Klabo added 12 points apiece, as Klabo and Dooley each had seven rebounds.
USD meets No. 1 seed South Dakota State in the Summit League Championship title game Tuesday for the second-straight year. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.