The South Dakota women's basketball team is trying to follow a familiar blueprint as they get set to open the 2018 WNIT at home, Thursday (March 15).

The Coyotes (26-6) will welcome the University of Houston to Vermillion, in hopes of starting another run that will lead USD to its second WNIT title in three years.

South Dakota had won 20 straight games, becoming the first Summit League team to go through conference play unbeaten (14-0) since 1994, before falling to South Dakota State in the conference tournament title game last week.

USD, an automatic qualifier in the WNIT,  is in the top 25 in the NCAA in field goal percentage (47%), free throw percentage (81%), three-point percentage (37%), three-pointers made (9 per game), steals (327), and turnover margin (+5).

Allison Arens is in the top ten in the NCAA in free throw percentage (90%) Jaycee Bradley is in the top 20 in three-point percentage (43%)

The Cougars (20-11), an at large pick in the field, are in the top 15 in the nation in steals and turnovers forced. They shot more free throws and the second most three-pointers of any team in the American Athletic Conference.

Sophomore guard Angela Harris led the AAC and was in the the top 20 in the nation in steals. She also had the second most three-point attempts and makes in the conference. Sophomore guard Jasmyne Harris is the team's leading scorer, averaging just under 20 points per game. Junior guard Serithia Hawkins is the leading rebounder (8 per game).

Houston has a non-conference win over Texas Tech and a 60-point loss to perennial powerhouse Connecticut. They finished fifth in the AAC and were beaten by Tulsa in the opening round of the conference tournament.

This is the South Dakota's fourth straight trip to the WNIT. They won the 2016 tournament after winning the Summit League regular season and losing to South Dakota State in the conference tournament title game.

Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday in Vermillion.


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