By Britni Smith, USD Sports Information BOX SCORE
South Dakota’s Cinderella run came to an end in the Sweet 16 as the Coyotes fell 52-49 to No. 12/12 Michigan in front of 8,540 fans inside INTRUST Bank Arena.
South Dakota (29-6) was just the second team in Summit League women’s basketball history to reach the Sweet 16 and one of only 27 double-digit seeds in NCAA Tournament history to reach this round.
Saturday marked the final game in the storied careers of seniors Hannah Sjerven, Chloe Lamb, Liv Korngable and Regan Sankey. The quartet qualified for four-straight NCAA Tournaments and led the Coyotes on this season’s historic run.
Sjerven led the Coyotes with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting in 28 minutes of action. Freshman guard Grace Larkins, the Summit’s Sixth Woman of the Year, knocked down three triples for nine points. Lamb and Korngable both tallied six points, as did second-year freshman Kyah Watson. Second-year freshman guard Maddie Krull added five.
No. 12/12 Michigan (25-6) advanced to the program’s first-ever Elite Eight. The Wolverines were in their second-straight Sweet 16, dropping an overtime contest to Baylor a year ago.
The Wolverines were led by All-American senior forward Naz Hillmon’s 17 points and 10 boards. Guards Laila Pheila and Leigha Brown joined her with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
The Coyotes, who never trailed in their opening two games of the NCAA Tournament, led by as much as six in the first quarter on Saturday night. Michigan took its first lead, 18-16, with 5:11 to go in the second quarter off a Hillmon putback inside.
Larkins knocked down a pair of big 3-pointers in the second quarter to take the lead back and South Dakota held a 26-24 advantage at the break.
Hillmon scored five points on a 9-0 run by Michigan in the third quarter to lead 37-32. South Dakota closed the gap and entered the final frame trailing the Wolverines 39-38.
Both squads traded baskets throughout the fourth quarter, with Michigan’s largest lead of five points coming with two minutes remaining. Korngable found Watson for an open 3-pointer with 1:40 to play to close Michigan’s lead to 48-46. Lamb tied it up at 48 on a pull-up less than a minute later.
Michigan’s Phelia banked in the go-ahead layup as the shot clock wound down to give the Wolverines a 50-48 edge with 22 seconds left. It was the final made field goal of the game as Michigan went on to win 52-49.
Michigan made 20-of-52 (38.5 percent) from the floor, while South Dakota made 19-of-52 (36.5 percent).