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USD to play Stanford in first round of NCAA tourney

Players on the South Dakota bench react as they widen the lead and win the 2014 Summit League Women’s Basketball Championship by defeating Denver 82-71 on March 11 at the Sioux Falls Arena. (Dick Carlson/Inertia)

VERMILLION (AP) — The University of South Dakota has earned a No. 15 seed for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and will be facing off against No. 2-seed Stanford University in the first round on Saturday in Ames, Iowa.

The Coyotes (19-13) will be making their first appearance in the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament. The 64-team tournament field was unveiled Monday night.

“Stanford is extremely experienced and they have played a ton of tournament games,” USD’s head coach Amy Williams said in a statement Monday. “They are going to be a tough foe. We understand that. But we are excited to game plan for another opponent and to have this opportunity to go and dance.”

South Dakota, which made the jump to Division I athletics in 2008-2009, topped Denver 82-71 last Tuesday to capture its first Summit League crown after knocking in-state nemesis South Dakota State off its five-year throne a day earlier in the semifinals.

In 2013, the Coyotes advanced to the Summit League championship game but lost to the Jackrabbits 56-53 when Alexis Yackley’s 3-point attempt bounced off the rim in the final seconds. While South Dakota State headed to the NCAA tournament that year, South Dakota received a bid to the Women’s Basketball Invitational. As a sixth seed in the west region, the Coyotes knocked off third-seed Utah and second-seed Lamar before losing in the semifinals to McNeese State.

The Cardinal (29-3) earned an at-large bid after losing to USC in the Pac 12 Tournament. Before that the Cardinal’s only other losses this season came in November to UConn and at Washington.

The winner of the opening round game will square off on Monday against either No. 7-seed Iowa State or No. 10-seed Florida State for a trip to the Sweet 16.

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