Talk about a tough matchup.
The University of South Dakota women’s basketball team opened its 2009-10 season with a 53-40 loss against Wisconsin-Green Bay on Sunday afternoon at the Sioux Falls Arena.
The Press & Dakotan was on hand in Sioux Falls, as correspondent Keith Brockberg covered the game and I snapped photos. I rode up with fellow P&D sportswriter Justin Rust, who was covering the game for The Volante (USD’s student newspaper).
The three of us watched as USD debuted its new-look roster to a crowd of 1,907 fans at the Arena. Though, to be fair, it definitely didn’t feel like that many.
We first got a look at the Coyotes at last Wednesday’s exhibition loss to Winona State at Laddie E. Cimpl Arena in Yankton. In that game, USD found it difficult to score against a tough Winona defense.
And Sunday in Sioux Falls, it was more of the same against a UW-Green Bay team that has won 11 straight Horizon League championships.
Though they replace four starters this season, the Phoenix (2-0) had the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense a year ago — allowing just an average of 50.8 points per game. And with eight players this season at least 6-foot, I can see why that trend could continue.
Green Bay held USD to 38.6 percent (17-of-44) from the field on Sunday, and out-rebounded the Coyotes 37-24. The Phoenix also forced USD into 20 turnovers.
Despite the offensive struggles, the Coyotes again saw strong production from junior transfer Abby Kinder, a junior college transfer from Danville (Ind.) Area CC. The 5-foot-10 guard led USD with 12 points, and continually showed the ability to penetrate a tough UW-GB defense. In Wednesday’s exhibition, Kinder paced the Coyotes with 16 points.
For a team with a handful of new players trying to feel each other, it may take some time for USD to find its groove. A Nov. 24 official home opener against Iowa Wesleyan at 7 p.m. should aid in that goal, but the Coyotes will then embark a tough road trip — at Wichita State, at Nebraska, and at Santa Clara.
Regardless, it’s good to have basketball back again.