SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (Courtesy Goyotes.com) - Senior Liv Korngable scored a career high 20 points as the Coyotes fell 54-50 to No. 18 Gonzaga in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic inside the Sanford Pentagon.
South Dakota drops to 0-2 for the first time under head coach Dawn Plitzuweit, albeit with the toughest season-opening tournament in program history. This marked the first time the Coyotes have ever played back-to-back AP Top 25 programs.
"Today was a defensive battle and a game that will help us as we continue to grow as a team," said Plitzuweit. "We want to play the best competition possible in our nonconference and this tournament will help us improve in a lot of areas. We will turn our attention to finals week and we look forward to playing at home on Sunday in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center."
Korngable earned a spot on the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic all-tournament team. She had back-to-back career games in the tournament, following a 16-point effort on Saturday. She finished 6-of-10 from the field on Monday with six assists and two rebounds.
Senior center Hannah Sjerven nearly posted another double-double with 12 points and nine boards. She also tallied three steals and a blocked shot.
Gonzaga (1-1) was led by preseason WCC Player of the Year Jill Townsend's 20 points, finishing a crucial 8-for-8 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Townsend is also included on the preseason Naismith trophy watch list. Kayleigh Truong pitched in 12 points for the Bulldogs.
The Zags, who had the third-best defense in the country a year ago, held the Coyotes to just 50 points – the lowest scoring effort for USD since March 6, 2018.
It also marks the first time that an opponent has defeated Plitzuweit's squad when scoring fewer than 60 points. South Dakota entered Monday's game 69-0 in Plitzuweit's tenure when holding foes under 60 points.
South Dakota jumped out to a 27-9 lead in the game through the first 15 minutes of action.
After shooting 50 percent from the field in the first quarter, the Coyotes' shooting went cold midway through the game. Gonzaga collapsed on the lane and the Coyotes were 3-of-18 from outside the arc in the game.
The Bulldogs climbed back from the deficit in the second half. Truong tied the game at 38-all with a three-ball with 8 minutes remaining and took the lead on a pull-up jumper 30 seconds later. Gonzaga's lead grew to as much as seven in the fourth quarter.
The Coyotes had opportunities to close the gap into the final minutes, with crucial buckets coming from Sjerven and Korngable in the final two minutes. However, Townsend and the Bulldogs put the game away at the free-throw line.
South Dakota returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 6, with its home opener against Lipscomb inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.