It’s not every day that Omaha women’s basketball gets to test themselves against a nationally ranked opponent on their home court.
But when the No. 21 South Dakota Coyotes came to Baxter Arena on Jan. 29, that’s exactly what the Mavericks got.
The Coyotes and the Mavericks played each other once already this season in a game won 77-44 by South Dakota in Vermillion. That game actually proved to be one of the more competitive Summit League games that South Dakota played in this season, as the Coyotes are off to a perfect 9-0 start to Summit League play and have won all of their games by an average of 37.3 points. Even outside of Summit League, the Coyotes have been dominant, as their only two loses on the year have come to No. 1 South Carolina and No. 24 Missouri State.
On paper, this matchup at home looked to be a daunting task for a Maverick side that seemed to be heading a different direction. Going into the game against South Dakota, Omaha had lost their last five conference games, with their last win coming in a 60-54 game against Oral Roberts on Jan. 4.
Despite the apparent differences between the two sides, the Mavericks were still fired up to face off against such an elite side such as South Dakota. Omaha started out the game very competitively, giving South Dakota a difficult time in the first quarter. After one period of play, the Coyotes led by a score of 17-11 with the Mavericks hanging tough. Sophomore Mariah Murdie in particular came to play, as she scored all 11 of Omaha’s first quarter points.
Despite the good first effort in the first quarter, the Coyotes eventually started to pull away from the Mavericks, taking a 34-19 lead into halftime. Finally, with a big 20-point fourth quarter, South Dakota put the game to bed and got out of Omaha with yet another win in Summit League play.
With the loss, the Mavericks fell to 1-7 and tied for bottom of conference standings. If the Mavericks want to avoid a second consecutive season of missing the Summit League tournament, then they face a must-win game on Feb. 22 on the road against the other team tied for last, Purdue Fort Wayne.
While that game is a must win, it wouldn’t hurt for Omaha to pick up some other wins in the meantime. The next chance comes on Feb. 6 at Baxter Arena against North Dakota State. That game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. tip-off.