South Dakota knocks off CSU in second round of WNIT

Christian Hedrick

Hannah Tvrdy (10) rushes the ball forward during the Mountain West Tournament game against Boise State on March 7. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

In the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, the South Dakota Coyotes shot their way past the visiting Colorado State women’s basketball team by a convincing score of 74-49, concluding the Rams’ 2017-2018 season.  

CSU jumped out to an early lead on a pair of Annie Brady buckets in the paint, but the Rams could not keep pace with the regular season Summit League champions’ high-octane offense for the remainder of the afternoon.

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“We just seemed slow today,” CSU head coach Ryun Williams said in a statement. “We had no legs today. We didn’t move well. We were way too late getting to shooters and once they got a few balls going down, it became contagious for South Dakota.”

Coyote center Kate Liveringhouse sparked USD’s offense with the game’s first triple early in the first. While the Rams’ struggled  to come up with a response, the Coyotes sunk three more 3-pointers to go ahead 24-12 after one. 24 points matches the most first quarter points the Rams have surrendered this season.

The Rams held USD scoreless for the first few minutes of the second stanza, but continued to sputter on offense and could not cut into the double-digit deficit. The Coyotes made life worse for CSU’s stagnant offense by extending their lead to 19 on three consecutive 3-balls before the half. USD finished the half 8-20 from deep.

“When you shoot that many 3s and you shoot it that well, you can stretch that lead pretty quick,” Williams said. “We didn’t match it offensively. We missed seven layups in that first half. We couldn’t keep up with them offensively.”

Before USD could write the game off at halftime, CSU senior Hannah Tvrdy looked determined to continue her collegiate career by closing out the half with a pair of triples and eight of the Rams’ 10 second-quarter points. Tvrdy finished the afternoon with a game-high 21 points.

Tvrdy’s tenacious second quarter effort spread to the rest of the Rams who came out of the break firing on all cylinders. Beginning with a triple from guard Jordyn Edwards, the Rams opened the second half on an 18-5 to make it a five-point game midway through the quarter.

Before the Rams could cut it to a one-possession game and threaten for a second consecutive double-digit comeback, Ciara Duffy dropped in her second 3-ball of the game to spark the Coyotes on another 10-0 run.

“We extended our pressure a little bit and got back into it with a lot of energy, but I think we spent it all with about five minutes left in that third quarter,” Williams said. “They make three of four 3-pointers to grow that lead again and I think that took the wind out of our sails.”

Following a Tvrdy layup at the four-minute mark of the third, the Rams went on a near seven-minute scoring draught. CSU mustered just nine points in the fourth quarter, while the Coyotes extended their lead to 25. USD finished the afternoon 13-37 from deep with four different Coyotes cracking double-digits, led by Duffy with 19.

Despite the lopsided final score line, Williams is pleased with the development of his team that finished the 2017-2018 season with a 21-12 record.

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“We obviously had our limitations,” Williams said. “We obviously had our deficiencies- mainly scoring the basketball. I thought we overcame a lot of those deficiencies this year to get 21 wins…With this group, I think we got about what we could out of them, to be honest. Any year, you want to go in and maximize your potential and I think we did that.”

Collegian sports reporter Christian Hedrick can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ChristianHCSU.