South Dakota women’s basketball has accepted an invitation to play in the inaugural Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic held at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. The season-opening tournament is scheduled for Nov. 28-30 with the Coyotes scheduled to play three games in three days.
The four-team round-robin tournament field boasts three Associated Press Top 25 teams, including No. 17 South Dakota. Joining them in the field are No. 1 South Carolina, No. 13 Gonzaga and Oklahoma.
“We are really looking forward to participating in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic hosted at the Sanford Pentagon,” said South Dakota head coach Dawn Plitzuweit. “This tournament allows our team to take on some of the most elite competition in the country! Plus, we are able to do this while staying in the great state of South Dakota! We feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and we will certainly learn a great deal from this experience.”
South Dakota, the defending Summit League regular season and tournament champions, finished 30-2 a year ago in one of the program’s most successful seasons in history. The Coyotes return three starters in Summit League Preseason Player of the Year Hannah Sjerven, preseason first-team pick Chloe Lamb and preseason second-team pick Monica Arens. Liv Korngable and Claudia Kunzer round out the senior class. Three-time Summit League Coach of the Year Dawn Plitzuweit begins her fifth season at the helm, boasting a 110-24 record with the Yotes.
The cancelation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament left college women’s basketball without a national champion to crown, but top-ranked South Carolina would have been the favorite in the tournament had it taken place. South Carolina rolled through the SEC en route to capturing regular season and tournament titles and boasting a 32-1 record. The Gamecocks lose two key seniors from last year’s squad, but their top-ranked freshman class are no longer rookies. Aliyah Boston, who averaged 12.5 points and 9.4 boards per game, won the Lisa Leslie Award as a true freshman. She was the consensus National Freshman of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. Reigning Naismith Coach of the Year Dawn Staley boasts four Sweet 16 appearances and the 2017 National Championship in her time at South Carolina.
The first meeting between the Coyotes and the Gamecocks came last December in Columbia. Then-No. 5 South Carolina edged out South Dakota 73-60, with the Coyotes being the lone non-conference opponent to reach 60 points inside Colonial Life Arena.
Another perennial mid-major powerhouse, Gonzaga has won 15 of the last 16 regular season West Coast Conference titles. The Zags, who finished 28-3 last year, were picked as preseason favorites again this year with reigning WCC Player of the Year Jill Townsend returning. Joining her on the All-WCC preseason team was fellow senior Jenn Wirth. The pair were two of three that averaged double-figures on a well-rounded Bulldog squad. Four-time WCC Coach of the Year Lisa Fortier enters her seventh year at Gonzaga.
Oklahoma boasted a top-20 scoring offense last season led by preseason All-Big 12 guard Taylor Robertson. The nation’s leading 3-pointer shooter splashed in 131 treys to set a single-season Big 12 record as a sophomore, averaging 19.1 points per game. The Sooners finished 12-18 on the year. Under longtime head coach Sherri Coale, who surpassed 500 career victories last season, the Sooners went to 19-straight NCAA Tournaments from 2000 to 2018 with three Final Four appearances.
This will mark the Coyotes’ first meeting with both Oklahoma and Gonzaga.
“This event is going to be a special three days of basketball,” said Jesse Smith, vice president of operations for the Sanford Sports Complex. “Both the No. 1 women’s and men’s college basketball teams in the country are going to be playing at the Sanford Pentagon within three weeks of each other setting up a historic month of basketball.”
A complete schedule of the tournament is below.
2:30 p.m. South Carolina vs. South Dakota
5 p.m. Oklahoma vs. Gonzaga
2:30 p.m. Oklahoma vs. South Carolina
5 p.m. Gonzaga vs. South Dakota
2:30 p,m. South Carolina vs. Gonzaga
5 p.m. South Dakota vs. Oklahoma