Bison apprisin’

The NDSU team that the USD women will play on Sunday afternoon has been a very difficult matchup for the third-seeded Coyotes for three of the four halves of basketball they’ve played against each other this season.

In the second half of the first game up in Fargo, the Coyotes overcame a halftime deficit by outscoring the Bison 42-15 in the second half on the way to an easy win. The game was played in early January and is not particularly pertinent to the current situation, though it seemed to hint that if the Coyotes can shoot a little bit, they can overcome whatever it was the Bison were doing to make life so difficult in the second game the pair played, a 57-50 Bison victory at the Dome.

. NDSU guards Dani Degagne and Katie Birkel took 39 of the team’s 59 shots that day and finished with 17 and 24 points, respectively, in NDSU’s surprising win at the Dome.

As I remember it, NDSU challenged the Coyotes to beat them from the outside in that contest and was rewarded for doing so. USD hit 5-of-26 on 3-pointers and, after crushing the Bison on the boards in the first game, actually lost the battle of the glass in the second game 39-38.

I’ve harped a little on shooting being an issue for this squad but statistically they’re the second-best shooting team in the conference, so maybe it’s not a big deal. The Coyotes could definitely use a good shooting night from Nicole Seekamp, however. The Coyotes’ leading scorer for the season hit 8-of-16 shots in a win over Western Illinois in the team’s second-to-last regular season game but in USD’s other five games played since the home loss to SDSU, she’s hit a combined 11 of 52 from the field.

In her defense, she’s been called on to take a lot of the tough shots when the opposing team has taken away the Coyotes’ other offensive options at the end of the possession clock road in half-court situations. Seeing your top scorer knocking down a few shots early would go a long way toward establishing some momentum on Sunday, however.

USD has won its last three games and the Bison have lost four of their last five coming into their 2:30 p.m. contest at the Arena so you’d have to figure momentum is on the Coyotes’ side. My feeling is that they’re going to have to meet the challenge of hitting outside shots often enough to bring the defense out a little bit. If NDSU can pack in its defense without fear in the halfcourt, it’s going to be much more difficult game for USD.