VERMILLION, S.D.—South Dakota junior guard Grace Larkins willed the Coyotes to a 79-65 win over Northern Arizona in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday night inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

Larkins scored a career high 34 points to pace the Coyotes to go with 12 rebounds in her 100th career game. She’s reached double figures 66 times, surpassed 20 points 20 times and tallied 14 double-doubles. Larkins was 11-of-11 from the line tonight, having made 50 of her last 51 free throws.


Joining her in double-figures were fifth-year junior forward Alexi Hempe with 13 points, senior guard Nicole Avila-Ambrosi with 12 points and third-year sophomore forward Carley Duffney with 11 points. This marked the second-straight game the Coyotes have placed four players in double-figure scoring and it was USD’s highest scoring output since December.

South Dakota (23-12) climbed back from a 10-point deficit midway through the second quarter to win by 14. The Coyotes outscored Northern Arizona (25-10) by 16 in the fourth quarter.


Northern Arizona’s 25 wins are a single-season program record. Junior guard Leia Beattie led the way with 19 points. She made five 3-pointers in the game with four in the first half. Sophomore forward Sophie Glancey was a presence in the post for the Lumberjacks, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. She also blocked four shots in the game.

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After an evenly matched first quarter, where Larkins scored 12 of USD’s 17 points, the Lumberjacks pulled away before the half. NAU made a driving layup just before the first-half horn to lead 37-31. South Dakota was shooting just 29.4 percent from the field at the half.

South Dakota moved away from the three-ball during the third quarter, scoring 10 of their 20 points in the paint, to improve their shooting efficiency to 50 percent for the frame. Larkins scored a driving layup to make it 53-51 entering the fourth quarter.

South Dakota tied the game at 55 on a layup by Hempe, then USD took the lead on their next trip down the court as Hempe dished it to Duffney for layup. Both buckets were a part of a 13-point run by the Coyotes that extended the lead to 64-55 midway through the fourth quarter.


After Larkins sealed the Coyotes’ lead with a breakaway layup that made it 68-58 with four minutes to go, South Dakota made its free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win. The Coyotes finished 27-of-28 from the line on the night.

South Dakota shot 37.7 percent (23-of-61) from the field while Northern Arizona finished at 32.5 percent (25-of-77). The Lumberjacks outrebounded the Coyotes 45-41, but only scored 11 second-chance points on 16 offensive rebounds.

The Coyotes capitalized with 19 points off 18 NAU turnovers. Larkins poked away four of USD’s six steals on the night.

South Dakota advances to the WNIT’s Super 16 and have a date with Wyoming on Friday. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Central in Laramie, Wyoming.

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