Sky opens up with 3-pointers

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Sky opens up with 3-pointers

Aaron Viner Courier Staff

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It may not have been forecast in the local weather report, but it was raining 3-pointers Saturday night in Vermillion, S.D.

In the first-ever meeting between the Western Illinois women’s basketball team and South Dakota, the newest member of the Summit League, the Coyotes knocked down half (11 of 22) of their 3-point tries en route to a 78-57 victory over the Leathernecks before 1,365 fans at the DakotaDome.

Western (6-12, 3-5) has now lost 4 of its last 5 games, and has fallen into a tie for eighth place with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the Summit League standings.

The Leathernecks have 10 regular-season Summit League games remaining, beginning with their first meeting of the season against Missouri-Kansas City (14-6, 5-3) tonight at 7 p.m. at the Swinney Recreation Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Only the top eight teams in the 10-team Summit League qualify for the postseason league tournament.

Senior forward Brittany Demery led the way for the Leathernecks on Saturday, scoring 14 points and adding 2 rebounds and 1 steal. Senior Valencia Kelly contributed 12 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist for Western.

Senior guard Sadie Webb, the Leathernecks’ leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, was held to 8 points by the Coyotes. Webb also had 6 assists.

The Leathernecks were 6 of 20 from long range in the game. Western now has 120 3-pointers this season, 35 behind the single-season school record of 155, set in 2007-08.

All five of South Dakota’s starters hit for double figures on Saturday: junior guard Tempestt Wilson (22 points, 2 rebounds), senior guard Annie Roche (13 points, 3 rebounds), junior guard Alexis Yackley (12 points, 5 assists, 2 rebound), senior center Jodie Boss (12 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks) and senior forward Amber Hegge (10 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks).

As a team, the Coyotes (11-6, 3-5) shot 43.1 percent (25 of 58) from the field.

South Dakota, No. 1 in the league in scoring defense, allowing opponents only 53.9 points per game on average, held Western to a 34.4 percent (22 of 64) field goal success rate, including just 28.1 percent (9 of 32) after halftime.

South Dakota trailed 10-6 to start the game, but then went on a 9-0 run highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers by Wilson and Hegge’s 3-point play.

A jumper by Kelly, off a pass from junior forward Jackie Rieger, cut the Coyotes’ lead to 15-12 with 15:25 to play, but then South Dakota went on another run, this time for 12 points, with Wilson contributing a 3-pointer and a 2-point jumper during the streak.

The Coyotes took a 41-30 lead into halftime.

After Yackley hit a 3-pointer 33 seconds into the second half, Western went on a 13-0 run, with Webb and junior guard Saule Kontautaite (8 points, 2 assists) each hitting 3-pointers to give the Leathernecks a 45-44 lead with 16:54 to play.

The Coyotes then went on a 12-1 run to go ahead 56-46 with 11:38 left, and Western could get no closer than 7 points after that.

Junior forward Michele Salvatori, currently third in the Summit League in rebounds, averaging 7.7 per game, led Western with 9 rebounds, and also had 7 points and 2 assists.

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