Preview: Ole Miss Women’s Basketball Set for First-Round NCAA contest vs. South Dakota
WACO, Texas — Ole Miss women’s basketball earned the No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, sending the Rebels two-stepping to Texas to take on the No. 10-seed South Dakota Coyotes in the Wichita Regional.
Ole Miss tips off in first-round action against South Dakota Friday at 12:30 p.m. (CT) from the Ferrell Center in Waco. If the Rebels win the Friday matchup, they will face the winner of the 15th-seeded Hawaii vs. the No. 2 Baylor Bears on Sunday.
In her fourth year at the helm, head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin has led an incredible turnaround in the Ole Miss program.
This is the Rebels’ first 20-win season since 2007, and for just the second time in program history, the Rebs reached 10 wins in SEC play.
Scouting the Coyotes
The No.10-seed Coyotes head into Friday’s first-round as Summit League Champs with a record of (27-5, 17-1).
Head Coach Dawn Plitzuweit has put together an extremely solid team this season, and they play with a great deal of energy.
Offensively, they shoot 39 percent from three-point range. They average 74 percent at the free-throw line, and 48 percent at every other shooting opportunity in between.
But this season, it has been the Coyote’s defensive side of the ball that has been one to watch. South Dakota has limited its opponents to 53.1 points per game, the eighth-fewest of all Division I teams. This is going to be a well-balanced team on both sides of the court.
The Rebels, on the other hand, allow 56 points per game, No. 5 among teams in Power 5 conferences.
South Dakota Players to Watch
South Dakota’s top scorer, Chloe Lamb, averages 15.4 points, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Hannah Sjerven paces the Coyotes with 7.5 rebounds per game and adds 15.1 points, while Liv Korngable leads the team with 3.6 assists per game while averaging 13.2 points.
Lamb has a 38-percent shooting percentage from downtown and leads the squad in made threes per game, knocking down 1.9 treys per contest.
Here’s a breakdown of the leading South Dakota players:
Hannah Sjerven: The three-time Summit League Defensive Player of the Year is a thorn in her opponents’ side. When she decided to return for her senior season, along with Korngable and Lamb, you knew these three had some unfinished business they wanted to settle.
Sjerven is one of the Coyotes’ strongest assets on both sides of the court. In her last game against South Dakota State, a win that helped punch her team’s ticket to the dance, she tallied a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. On the opposite end, she blocked four shots and had two steals.
Liv Korngable: Korngable is a foundational player. In addition to her elite skillset that has helped elevate her team, she is the glue that helps hold the team together on and off the court.
Chloe Lamb: Lamb is one of the most relentless players on this team. The Summit League Player of the Year notched a career-high 33 points, going 12-of-16 in shooting during the Coyotes’ run in the conference tournament championship that ended in an 81-67 South Dakota victory.
Lamb has notched 1,826 points and is the third-leading scorer in Coyote history. That semi-final game earlier this month was her sixth career game with five three-pointers.
Coyotes On the Rise
Kyah Watson: While the redshirt freshman was out most of last season due to injury, she has made an impact this season for her team. She is one of South Dakota’s most versatile defenders and is extremely efficient when she is put in the rotation. She is going to be a problem and can shake up things on the court.
Allison Peplowski: The junior forward for the Coyotes has been a player who has really stepped up. While she hasn’t seen a lot of time, she makes the most of every moment she is in the game and I expect her to be another impact player in critical situations for the Coyotes.
Everyone is focused on South Dakota’s offense, but the defense has been the silent game-changer in all the team’s close battles.
Both Ole Miss and South Dakota rank well when it comes to turnover margin: the Rebels rank in the top 10 among Power 5 teams, while South Dakota ranks fourth.
That being said, look for the Rebels to overpower with their size and athleticism, and their relentless defense — matched with the team’s energy and drive.
Shakira Austin on South Dakota: "They're definitely a good shooting team…As long as we come in and play our defense, I think it will be a good ending for us.
Lashonda Monk: "They're really solid, very fundamental. I think what we will bring will kind of shock them."
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) March 17, 2022
- The last time Ole Miss reached the big dance was a trip for the ages, when the seventh-seeded Rebels made a remarkable run to the Elite Eight.
- With its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance, Ole Miss is one of 37 programs nationally to make 18 or more trips to the dance.
- This is the Rebels third trip as a seventh seed, as Ole Miss is 3-2 at No. 7.
- This year’s trip to the tournament is the second in McPhee-McCuin’s career as the coach took Jacksonville to the dance back in 2016.
ON THE AIR
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(Feature image: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss; Graphic: Lee Ann Herring, The Rebel Walk)
Lee Ann is the Director of Recruiting for The Rebel Walk. She is a veteran SEC sports journalist and NFL content writer. She is also the Sr. Editor for MESPORTS digital. Herring-Olvedo is a Brown University graduate who loves good cigars, good games, and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order.