VERMILLION, S.D. – The Iowa Wesleyan College women’s basketball team played tough against a big-time opponent Tuesday night, sticking with the University of South Dakota much of the way before succumbing 71-56 to the Coyotes Tuesday night at the Dakota Dome.
For more than 30 minutes the Tigers gave a scare to the Coyotes, who are in the process of transitioning to Division I and finished 18-11 last year. IWC trailed by just three points with seven minutes left before USD finally took control with a 21-7 run down the stretch, sending the Tigers to 2-5 on the season with a fifth straight loss against a strong opponent.
The Tigers played the Coyotes to a 28-28 tie after 20 minutes, coming back from an early eight-point deficit to hang with the much taller hosts. Lindsee Bachicha (Jr.-Brighton, Colo.) came off the bench for 11 points including three three-pointers in the first half.
Wesleyan pulled out to a four-point lead early in the second half when Sheray Brown (Jr.-Detroit, Mich.) converted a three-point play to make it 33-29 with 17:05 remaining. The teams went back and forth the next few minutes, with the Tigers taking their final lead on Bachicha’s fourth three-pointer that made it 37-35 with just over 14 minutes left.
South Dakota (1-1) took the lead for good with an 11-2 run that included three three-pointers by Samantha Mehr, the final one giving the Coyotes a 46-39 lead with 11:54 left. The Tigers would not go away, though, and got the lead back down to three after Anna Jones (So.-Cornell, Ill.) hit two free throws to make it 48-45 with 9:48 remaining.
The Coyotes finally pulled away slowly over the final seven minutes, taking their first double-digit lead with 5:56 left. IWC stayed within striking distance until South Dakota finished a 9-1 run over two minutes for a 69-52 lead with 1:39 left.
Bachicha led the Tigers with 14 points, while Jessi Beachey (Jr.-Fisher, Ill.) added 10 points. Brown led Wesleyan with six rebounds and Jones had seven assists. The Tigers shot 43.2%, making 19 of 44 shots, and battled South Dakota to a 28-28 draw in rebounding.
USD was led by Amber Hegge with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Mehr also had a career-high 17 points. The Coyotes shot 48.1% for the game (26-for-54), including 15 of 27 (55.6%) in the second half.
IWC will finally take to the court at home for the first time this season on Friday when it hosts Jamestown (N.D.) College at 5:30 p.m. at Ruble Arena. The Tigers will take a 25-game homecourt winning streak into the contest against a Jamestown team ranked 6th in NAIA Division II.