South Dakota Athletics
VERMILLION, S.D.— South Dakota women's basketball enters the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today/Women's Basketball Coaches Association Top 25 poll for the first time in school history. The Coyotes are ranked No. 25 in both polls after receiving votes for 10 consecutive weeks this season.
"It is certainly an exciting day for our young ladies to receive this recognition nationally by the AP Top 25 poll for the hard work that they have put in so far this season," said USD head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. "This type of honor speaks volumes of the players and coaches who have built this program before us and it can only occur when you have a special combination of support from your University and from your community like we have here. We are truly blessed here at the University of South Dakota!
"With that being said, this ranking is not the ultimate goal for our team and for our program. We will need to block out this noise and get back to work to compete on the road this weekend against a very talented and hot team in Western Illinois, who is among the best three-point shooting teams in the country and one of the top teams in creating steals as well."
South Dakota stands at 22-3 on the season in the midst of the program's best NCAA Division I season to date.
The Coyotes have two AP Top 25 wins on their resume, knocking off No. 23 Iowa State, 64-59, inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center back in November. USD also topped No. 22 Missouri, 74-61, on the road in Columbia on Dec. 15.
This marks South Dakota's first time being ranked since the 2007-08 season. In their final season of NCAA Division II, the Coyotes went 33-2 en route to finishing as NCAA Division II Runners-Up. South Dakota was ranked second in the USA Today/ESPN Division II Coaches Top-25 poll at the end of the season.
The Coyotes become the first Summit League program to be ranked since the 2008-09 season. South Dakota State was ranked for eight-straight weeks in 2009 and finished the season at No. 19. The Coyotes are just the third Summit League program to be ranked in history, joining South Dakota State (2008-09) and Northern Illinois (1993-94).
South Dakota boasts a balanced offense led by junior guard Ciara Duffy's 14.9 points per game. The Coyotes are the league's top defense, holding foes to 57.8 points per game this season. South Dakota's 19-point scoring margin ranks ninth in the nation.
Last week, the Coyotes completed the regular season sweep of Omaha and Oral Roberts. South Dakota held Omaha scoreless, 29-0, in the first quarter en route to a 78-33 victory. Following that up, the Coyotes came down from a double-figure deficit to defeat Oral Roberts 75-64 behind a big fourth quarter.