South Dakota women finally move on, get Baylor in 2nd round

WACO, Texas (AP) — South Dakota is moving on in the women’s NCAA Tournament for the first time. The reward is a matchup with Baylor on the second-seeded Bears’ home court, where they’ve won 17 consecutive tournament games.

“I think they’re a really, really good basketball team,” Baylor coach Nicki Collen said of the 10th-seeded Coyotes. “Probably underseeded with respect to their league. They didn’t have those like feather-in-their-cap marquee non-conference wins, but they’re a really good basketball team.”

The second-round meeting Sunday night comes after South Dakota (28-5) picked up its third-ever win over a Southeastern Conference team, leading by double digits for long stretches in a 75-61 victory over Mississippi.

Baylor’s 89-49 victory over Hawaii came in Collen’s tournament debut with the Bears, a notable moment considering she replaced three-time champion Kim Mulkey.

Now the Bears (28-6) will chase a 13th consecutive trip to the Sweet 16, while Alabama graduate transfer Jordan Lewis is looking for her first. She led Baylor with 23 points against Hawaii.

“I think it’s a motivating factor, but I think it’s one of the reasons I came here to play in a program like Baylor because they’re known for going to the Sweet 16 and known for competing at a high level,” Lewis said. “When you come here, you have to have that same competitive mindset and not just settle for what you think is OK.”

DOUBLING UP

Two-time All-American NaLyssa Smith is third nationally with 25 double-doubles after getting 21 points and 14 rebounds against Hawaii. She had 17 and nine in the third quarter, when Baylor outscored the Rainbow Wahine 34-8 to turn the game into a blowout.

“She’s one of them players, you might not realize it but you can look up at any given moment and she’ll have 20,” teammate Sarah Andrews said. “It’s amazing just the way she impacts the game, and at any given moment I know she’s going to go off.”

POWER DUO

Senior standouts Chloe Lamb and Hannah Sjerven led South Dakota’s first tournament victory. They’ll have to be brilliant again if the Coyotes hope to have any chance at a huge upset.

Lamb is the guard in charge of setting things up and scoring from the perimeter, while Sjerven is the crafty post player facing a huge challenge against the 6-foot-4 Smith and 6-3 frontcourt mate Queen Agbo.

“The successes always brings confidence, so I think with that, a little more comfortable going into the next one,” Lamb said. “Just see what we can do.”

Sjerven made all seven of her shots against a solid defensive team in Mississippi, starting with a 3-pointer on the first possession of the game.

“These young ladies have been incredible leaders in our program in the way that they work and the way they communicate with each other, in the way they lead us in terms of making sure that we’re recovered and ready to go,” coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.

SMITH AND COMPANY

Lewis hasn’t carried the scoring load often but did against Hawaii. Andrews helped finish the second-half rout by scoring the first 11 Baylor points of the fourth quarter on her way to 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Egbo, who isn’t as prolific as Smith on double-doubles, recorded her 13th against Hawaii. She had four in a row during Big 12 play, and a career-high 21 rebounds against Iowa State in January.

“I know everyone asks before even we played this game, obviously, NaLyssa Smith is really good, but what will it take for you guys to ultimately try to win a national championship?” Collen said. “I talked a lot about Jordan and Queen.

“Jordan has the ability to make 3s. She’s a kid who gets in the gym. She can get three-point plays, and she can make the right pass. She’s a huge key for us.”

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More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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