Friday, October 15, 2021

Preview: Women's basketball heads to WNIT Sweet 16 to face South Dakota

March 21, 2018
<p>Freshman forward Sydney Cooks (1) loses control of the ball during the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament against Toledo on March 19, 2018 at Breslin Center. The Spartans trail the Rockets at halftime, 33-32. (C.J. Weiss | The State News)&nbsp;</p>

Freshman forward Sydney Cooks (1) loses control of the ball during the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament against Toledo on March 19, 2018 at Breslin Center. The Spartans trail the Rockets at halftime, 33-32. (C.J. Weiss | The State News) 

Who: South Dakota Coyotes 

Where: Sanford Coyote Sports Center in South Dakota, Vermillion

When: Thursday, March 22 at 8 p.m.

TV/Radio: BTN Plus / Spartan Sports Network

Redshirt sophomore guard Shay Colley drove to the basket in the final seconds of regulation to send the women's basketball team to the Sweet 16 of the WNIT.

Turnovers played a key factor in the win over Toledo and will look to continue to the next round. MSU switched to a full court press midway through the third, which resulted in 16 turnovers on the Rockets, including 10 in the second half alone, and only giving up five turnovers of their own. 

The final minutes have been crucial for MSU, as the Spartans are 17-3 this season when they lead with five minutes left in regulation. Head coach Suzy Merchant is 209-15 all-time when leading with five minutes left. 

The Coyotes come into the tournament at 28-6 overall. They advanced to the third round of the Summit League Tournament before falling to rival South Dakota State, 65-50. South Dakota went undefeated in their conference, including an 18-game winning streak to end the season.

South Dakota defeated the University of Houston in the first round, 65-58, and dominated Colorado State in the second round, 74-49.

The Coyotes are led by backcourt duo of freshman guard Ciara Duffy and junior guard Allison Arens, who both average approximately 11 to 12 points per game. 

Like the Spartans, the Coyotes get off to quick starts as the team has shot 57 percent in the first quarter and outscored opponents 46-22 in the first two rounds of the tournament. The bench has been a key factor for the Coyotes in the WNIT, as they have had a combined 32-3 advantage in the first two games

"(MSU is) a team now that they're healthy, have great size," South Dakota head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said in an ESPN podcast. "They've got two kids that are 6-foot-4 and two others that come off the bench that are the same as well. They post up their post kids, but also post up their guards."

This will be the first game of the tournament where the Spartans will head on the road after they hosted the first two rounds at home. 

Prediction

MSU 78 South Dakota 74

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