It'll be a bit of 'back to the future' for the South Dakota women's basketball team when they open 2017 WNIT play, at home Thursday night (March 16) at 7:00 PM.

USD (22-8), the defending tournament champs, will host North Dakota.

The Coyotes and Fighting Hawks saw a lot of each other as foes in the old North Central and Great West Conferences. Two years from now, the schools will once again share a home conference when UND moves into the Summit League.

USD finished fourth in the Summit League this season and were beaten by Omaha in the opening round of the conference tournament.

The Fighting Hawks (20-1) were co-champions of the Big Sky Conference and were beaten by Portland State in the opening round of the conference tournament. They are in the top 50 in the nation in scoring (72 points per game) with five players averaging in double figures, but rank 275th in points allowed. The Hawks are fourth in the NCAA in free throws made; in the top 30 in defensive rebounding.

Two players - Samantha Roscoe and Lexi Klabo - have combined to block 93 shots this season. The Hawks rank in the top 25 nationally in that category.

UND is making its third straight postseason run, going 1-2 in a pair of Women's Basketball Invitational tournament appearances.

This is the Coyotes' third straight WNIT appearance (7-1 overall):

  • 2015 - Beat Creighton. Eliminated by Northern Colorado.
  • 2016 - Beat Creighton, Minnesota, Northern Iowa, Western Kentucky, Oregon, and Florida Gulf Coast to win the championship.

USD also played in the NCAA Tournament in 2014, losing to Stanford in the opening round.

In 2011 and 2013, the Coyotes went 2-2 in back-to-back appearances in the WBI.

I talked with Coyotes head coach Dawn Plitzuweit about the WNIT opener with North Dakota:

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