For the Week of January 15
1. South Dakota (4-0 Summit)
Beat Fort Wayne 85-43
Our panel split 3/3 this week on USD/SDSU at #1.
We are going with the Coyotes because they have been impressive, and like Tommy Boy with that meat-lovers pizza stashed in the trunk, they do have that tasty road win at Western Illinois.
USD has taken over as the highest-scoring team in league play at 82 PPG. They also happen to be tops in defense allowing just 54 PPG.
It is as simple as that. The Fightin’ Plitzuweits are scoring and not letting the other team score.
Freshman Chloe Lamb led them with 16 points in the win over Fort Wayne and she is not even in the top 6 on the TEAM in scoring.
The Yotes have 4 of the top 13 in the league in PPG right now led by Ciara Duffy (17) and Jaycee Bradley (16).
“Still most impressive road W of the season.” - Stemen
“Avg margin of victory in SL games is 27! Schedule about to get a lot tougher though.” – Newitt
“Allowing league low 54 ppg in conference play while shooting a league best 52%; Good test coming Wednesday at ORU.” – Elsen
“C-O-Y-O-T-E-S! GOOOOO YOTES!” - Homer Stewart
2. South Dakota State (4-0)
Won at Denver 69-58 Won at Oral Roberts 77-70
The Jacks had a Planes, Trains and Automobiles trip to contend with.
A cancelled flight and a bus trip to Omaha and a layover and an early morning flight to Denver on game day led to some travel lag early against Denver.
The Pioneers have plenty plucky this year and it was not really a surprise when they led early in the fourth quarter, but SDSU closed the game on a 22-11 run.
The Jacks followed with a satisfying win at Oral Roberts. Summit-leading scorer Macy Miller had 26 points, 7 boards and 4 assists.
“Took care of business on the road to stay even with USD.” – Stemen
“Gutted out two road wins and had to endure some rough travel problems getting to Denver. Guebert and Miller best guard tandem in mid-major women's hoops.” – Newitt
“Brutal travel experience showed on the floor, but Jacks still come away with road wins over Denver and ORU.” – Elsen
“All around solid, and their depth could separate them as we get down the stretch in league play.” – Stewart
3. Western Illinois (3-1)
Won at Omaha 90-51
Led from tip to final buzzer at Omaha and made 14/34 threes.
The Gran Comienzo Cinco of Braun/Clemens/Blumer/Farrow/Higginbotham was excepcional again led by Clemens with 29 points and 6 assists. She leads the league in assists. Higginbotham leads the league in rebounding.
They are still the most dangerous team in the league when that first five is rolling.
Was that loss at home to USD a good kick in the pants? Can the Leathernecks go to Brookings and knock off SDSU this Saturday?
“2 bounce back wins after home loss to USD.” – Stemen
“Even though they have a home loss to USD, the Leathernecks still might just end up on top when the dust settles.” – Newitt
“Have responded well to USD loss.” - Elsen
4. Oral Roberts (3-2)
Beat North Dakota State 71-48 Lost to South Dakota State 77-70
ORU has a star in senior guard Faith Ihim who got some kind words from SDSU coach Aaron Johnston after she went for 24 against the Jacks.
The Golden Eagles are definitely a top-4 team but they need to beat a top-3 team to be considered a contender. They host South Dakota on Wednesday.
“Making a case as potential party crasher for top 3 seed.” – Stemen
“Super athletic.” - Stewart
“Played SDSU tough, have a great chance to make a statement this week when they host USD.” – Newitt
“Split first two games of six-game conference home stand; USD is up next.” – Elsen
5. Denver (2-2)
Lost to South Dakota State 69-58 Beat North Dakota State 98-79
Another team trying to prove its potential by knocking off a top-tier team.
They did go back and forth and toe to toe with South Dakota State before falling in the final five minutes and then blew up for 98 against NDSU.
Freshman Claire Gritt continues to thrive. She had 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and ZERO turnovers in 28 minutes against the Bison.
DU has a chance to get above .500 in the league when they play at Omaha this Thursday.
“Battled in home loss to SDSU, showed dominance over NDSU in win.” – Stemen
“Finding ways to win against their peers in the lower half.” – Newitt
“Best of bottom 4; hung tough against SDSU.” – Elsen
“Respectable with how close they played SDSU.” – Stewart
6. Fort Wayne (1-4)
Lost at South Dakota 85-43
The Dons did get a league win with a solid showing at home against Omaha. Peyton Fallis had season highs with 14 pts/7 rebs.
They are scoring enough (79 PPG in league) but not defending enough (also 79 PPG) and that is probably going to be an issue when they go to Western Illinois on Thursday.
“Because they've found a way to get a win.” – Stemen
“Got a win, good for them.” – Newitt
“Move up thanks to win over Omaha.” – Elsen
7. North Dakota State (0-4)
Lost at Oral Roberts 71-48 Lost at Denver 98-79
The Bison have a had a brutal schedule in the first two weeks and have played well ten minutes at a time but not well enough for 40 to get a victory yet.
They need a W to get some feel-good vibes going and they have an opportunity to earn a W at home on Saturday against Fort Wayne.
“Four league losses by an avg of 19 points, three on the road.” – Stemen
“Wheels might be coming off, have played tough SL schedule so far.” – Newitt
“Lost 4 conference games by an average of 19 points.” – Elsen
8. Omaha (0-4)
Lost at Western Illinois 90-51
The Mavs got blitzed at Western Illinois which can happen to a lot of teams, but they can’t have a talented starting 5 shoot 10/31 and be held to 26 total points like they were in that loss.
Ellie Brecht has gone 7/16 on threes in the last two games and scored 10+ in both, but Omaha has to get her and Vidal and Vaccher and Walter clicking at the same time. The Mavs host Denver on Thursday in a winnable game for both.
“Four league losses, two at home, by an average of 26 points. Ugh.” – Stemen
“Refuse to believe this team is a last place squad after I saw them hang with SDSU for close to 30 min even though they are 0-4.” – Newitt
“Lost 4 conference games by an average of 26 points.” – Elsen
“Lost to Fort Wayne (bad), but I’m with Brad in that I was impressed with how they played SDSU.” - Stewart
HUGE GAME(S) OF THE WEEK
South Dakota at Oral Roberts on Wednesday
Coyotes have been great at both ends of floor, but the trip to Tulsa is one of the toughest in the league
Western Illinois at South Dakota State on Saturday
Great team vs. Great team should = Great game