Coyotes gather to smack Billikens

ST. LOUIS—South Dakota rebounded from a 12-point deficit in the first half and saw four players double-digit in a 71-67 away win over Saint Louis at Chaifetz Arena on Sunday.

The Coyotes improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 away. The Billikens fell to 1-5 overall and 1-2 at home. It was the first meeting between the two programs.

Point Guard from South Dakota Grace Larkins scored a team-high 17 points, including three buckets, in the third quarter as the Coyotes turned a 36-31 halftime deficit into a 50-44 lead. Jenia Ugofsky offered a career-high 13 points in 5-of-7 shooting with four rebounds. Macy Guebert drilled a go-ahead 3 pointer with 28 seconds left and finished the game at the free throw line with a total of 11 points.

“Today was an absolute team win,” said USD head coach Kayla Karius. “We really settled in after the first quarter and limited our rallies. That helped our pace and we made better shots.

“Our team gains new experiences with every game. We had to fight back and finally got through everything. Our focus and competitive spirit kept us going. I’m really proud of this team.”

Saint Louis led 18-10 after one and enjoyed their widest lead at 34-22 after Kayla McMakin scored a 3 with three minutes remaining in the first half. McMakin led all scorers off the field with 18 points on 7-of-21.

It was a redshirt freshman Carley Duffney who provided the spark on the bank of South Dakota. Fresh from a season-high 14 points last time out, Duffney had 10 points on Sunday, including eight in the second quarter. To Madison Grange converted a three-point play to reduce the Billikens’ lead, Duffney drilling a three that quickly closed the gap to 34-28. USD closed within three years after a Larkins layup before McMakin answered for the final score of the half.

South Dakota held Saint Louis on 3-of-13 shots in the third quarter and maintained their lead until McMakin’s second 3-pointer of the game gave the Billikens a 65-64 lead with 1:45 to go. Guebert received a perfect pass from Ugofsky on the wing shortly after and drilled the shot that finally gave USD the lead. The Coyotes forced a hard shot at the other end, Larkins rebounded, got fouled and made both free throws for a four-point lead.

South Dakota had 20 points from 21 offensive rebounds and a true freshman Walker Demers tore down eight of them en route to a season-high 11 boards. She also hit a big 3 in the second half for a total of seven points. After flipping the ball nine times in the opening quarter, South Dakota retaliated and flipped the Billikens 21 times. Ugofsky had two of the Coyotes’ six steals.

Sunday marked the start of South Dakota’s longest road trip of the season. Next, the Coyotes head to Las Vegas for a Christmas classic. The team meets Santa Clara and Fordham on back-to-back days on Friday and Saturday. USD also meets Northern Colorado ahead of their next home game against Drake on December 6th.