University of South Dakota Making History Hoops
For just the second time, a South Dakota team will compete in the Sweet 16 of the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. The USD Coyotes defeated 7th seed Ole Miss in the first round and then upset 2nd seed Baylor University in the second round.
USD Redshirt Freshman, Morgan Hansen, from [hometown], said the team was fired up from the beginning.
“I just knew from the get-go that we were coming out here with a win. So, when the game finally ended, I knew we secured that big win, Hansen said. “I think it was so exciting. I just wanted to cry in happiness, and I was so overwhelmed, and I couldn’t believe it.”
The Coyotes beat Baylor 61 to 47 and held the lead, the entire game. SUD coach Dawn Plitzuweit remembers the moments following the final buzzer as near perfect.
“To have our fans close to our bench at the time and be able to celebrate with them and sing our fight song, all those are great great moments,” she said.
Plitzuweit says the locker room was where the real victory was evident.
“What I’ll remember the most out of it was walking back to the locker and seeing some of our players absolutely gassed,” she said. “To know what it took out of them, what they gave to have the chance to compete on the national stage against one of the powerhouses in women’s basketball I think just documented to me what it really takes, and our players gave everything they had and that was really fun to see.”
However now freshman Morgan Hansen says the team has to concentrate on the next round.
“I’m still on cloud nine but you have to sit back and realize we have unfinished business here and we still have a lot of work to do.”
There’s been lots of support along the way. Students, staff and Vermillion residents welcomed the players back home after their win.
Hansen says she felt like a celebrity.
“They are making us feel famous. When I walk into class they are like ‘congratulations.”
Redshirt Senior, Chloe Lamb from Onida, says she had no idea how much support the team had going into the game.
“We focus on the precious present you know, just playing a game. Then afterward everything kind of sets in and you hear and see the fans a little more and realize what you have just done.”
Lamb says the team put in some hard work to make the next stage of the tournament.
“I think all of us kind of recognize this as history and no one will ever be able to take that away from us you know. I think we all understand all the work we have put in for it and just really happy to see those goals being fulfilled.”
South Dakota isn’t known for nationally competitive athletic teams in any sport. Hansen says growing up in South Dakota, it wasn’t uncommon to feel pushed aside when competing.
“A lot of people don’t think a lot of good basketball players come out of South Dakota and we’re really hard to represent ourselves either in AAU or at this level. So, I think it’s really cool that we are putting South Dakota out on the map.”
The USD women’s basketball team is no stranger to success, however. Lamb says their standard of play is on the rise.
“Throughout the years we have been raising the standard and the players before me were doing that too.”
USD Coach Plitzuweit says people wear the team’s jersey with great honor.
“I think of all our kids from the state of South Dakota have a special pride of wearing a jersey with their state’s name on it. I think representing the University of South Dakota, which has been great to our women’s basketball program, has a meant a whole lot to them.
The USD Women’s Basketball team is back in action on Saturday March 26th against 3rd seed Michigan for a chance to move on to the Elite Eight.