VERMILLION, S.D. --- Defending WNIT champion South Dakota held serve with a 78-55 win in the opening round of this season's tournament Thursday evening at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center. The Coyotes led from the start to shake a three-game losing streak and advance to the WNIT second round vs. Iowa.
South Dakota (23-8) wasted little time gaining the advantage, jumping out to a quick 11-2 lead. USD would not look back from there as North Dakota missed its first seven shots from the three-point line and mustered just nine points in the opening quarter. That, coupled with 14 first-half turnovers, put the Fighting Hawks in a 36-21 defici at the break.
USD would build a lead as many as 25 in the fourth quarter and won its seventh straight WNIT game. Sophomore Allison Arens led all scorers with 24, part of four USD players in double figures.
Senior Makailah Dyer paced UND with 11 points while fellow classmates Leah Szabla and Samantha Roscoe added 10 and eight points, respectively. Sophomore Bailey Strand tripled three times for nine points in the loss.
"Tough way to go out, it was a good season overall," UND head coach Travis Brewster said. "Obviously, there are some things we have to go back to the drawing board to work on some things. Credit South Dakota for really taking us off the dribble there. I thought their guards did a great job getting to the rim.
"Our seniors have had some success here. They won a league championship as freshmen and going out in their final year as champions is pretty special. Not many people can say that they have two titles in their careers. I can't say enough about how they've been a part of building this to another level. I'd like to thank Makailah Dyer, Leah Szabla, Samantha Roscoe and Ellie Ripplinger for their time here at UND.
"I know the future is bright with our group returning. Our sophomore class is something special. They now have a chance to build on the foundation that's already out there."
UND ends its season at 20-11.
Notes: North Dakota completed its fourth straight season advancing to a postseason tournament (NCAA, WNIT, 2 WBIs) ... UND's combined record in that stretch is 78-50 ... Dyer finishes her career with 1,466 points, good for 13th place in the UND all-time scoring list ... She is second in free throw makes in the school's history, hitting 436 in her 3.5 seasons ... Dyer is tied for 10th all-time with 154 three-pointers made ... Her career free-throw percentage is also tied for 10th at .790 ... Szabla's career point total finishes at 1,042, which puts her 31st in the school record books ... Her 180 career steals places her tied for eighth all-time at North Dakota.