VERMILLION — No longer does the South Dakota women’s basketball program fly under the radar.
Not when you’ve twice reached the NCAA Tournament and once won the WNIT championship as a mid-major outfit.
And still, the Coyotes continue to reach new levels.
For the third week this season, USD was ranked in the Associated Press top-25 poll as it came in No. 25 this week — it fell three spots from last week. It marks five times over the past two seasons that the Coyotes have found themselves ranked in the poll.
For good measure, USD is also ranked No. 22 in the USA Today coaches poll.
“It’s definitely really cool,” senior Ciara Duffy said after Saturday’s home victory over Omaha.
“It’s something that continues to make history for this program, and it’s really cool for all of us to get to be part of that.”
The Coyotes (16-2) are out to a 4-0 start in the Summit League and put together an impressive non-conference resume that has USD currently sitting No. 40 in the latest RPI.
Not that they’d necessarily focus too much on their national ranking, the Coyotes nonetheless aren’t about to ignore the recognition and respect.
“It’s something we don’t want to take for granted; we want to be able to enjoy that and celebrate that, because it’s something that is very unique and very special,” head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.
And yet, there’s also a ‘but.’
“At the same time, we don’t want to get caught up in it,” Plitzuweit said. “That’s a delicate balance between the two.”
When you play a game with a certain ranking next to your name, there comes the added pressure of living up to that designation, and the Coyotes know that fell well, according to Duffy.
“Every game going in now, everyone wants to beat you that much more, and I think we have a good understanding of that,” she said.
It makes the ‘one game at a time’ mantra even more important, Duffy added.
“It really does help to take it one game at a time, because we know that there are so many good teams that are capable of having a great game against us; pulling an upset, you never know,” she said.
To the point of the Coyotes not overlooking anyone, regardless of any national ranking, Plitzuweit raved about their ability to zero in on improvements.
“Our young ladies have done a great job of really just forging ahead and really trying to focus on what we need to do to improve us,” the coach said.
The Coyotes travel north for a Thursday night game at North Dakota State and will then host rival South Dakota State on Saturday at 1 p.m.
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