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Punctual putback

VERMILLION, S.D. - Kierah Kimbrough had all the confidence in the world when she saw Kelsey Maffin loft a short jump shot from the right baseline. She thought Maffin's shot was on the mark.

VERMILLION, S.D. - Kierah Kimbrough had all the confidence in the world when she saw Kelsey Maffin loft a short jump shot from the right baseline. She thought Maffin's shot was on the mark.

Maffin, meanwhile, had as much confidence in Kimbrough in the closing seconds of a well-played North Central Conference game.

That confidence certainly paid off for the top-ranked Sioux, who beat South Dakota 81-79 in overtime Saturday night before 2,467 DakotaDome fans - a win that improved the Sioux to 3-0 in the NCC and 20-1 overall.

Kimbrough's putback of Maffin's missed shot with half a second to play gave the Sioux the win. And it was a hard-earned win, one that featured UND's dominant inside game top South Dakota's 3-point shooting.

"This was a great win," UND coach Gene Roebuck said. "Both teams played well. This was a huge step forward for us."

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With the score tied at 79, UND called timeout with 15.9 seconds to play. Maffin, who missed UND's last four games because of a sprained ankle, shot from the right baseline. The shot bounced out, but Kimbrough grabbed the ball and put it in. Her rebound and basket displayed her athleticism. She grabbed the ball while in the air and banked it home.

"Kierah is always there," Maffin said. "I knew she'd be there. I wasn't nervous."

Kimbrough, who led the Sioux with 26 points and 11 rebounds, thought Maffin's shot was going in. "But it came right to me," Kimbrough said. "All I had to do was jump up and finish it."

South Dakota dropped to 0-2 and 13-3 overall. The Coyotes' other league loss came at home, too, by two points to Augustana.

"There is no one with more talent in the country than UND," South Dakota coach Chad Lavin said. "But I feel good about our kids. They played hard. But I don't feel good about being 0-2 in the league. That game showed that both teams are pretty good."

UND led nearly the entire way. The Sioux appeared to be in good shape with 5½ minutes to go in regulation, holding a 64-54 lead. But the Coyotes came all the way back, as Shannon Daly's 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 69 and forced overtime. The Coyotes almost forced a second overtime with another trey - one from Jeana Hoffman with 23 seconds to go - tied the game at 79.

The Sioux then called a timeout to set the winning play.

"We wanted the last shot and Maffin got a good look," Roebuck said. "But Kierah got a great rebound."

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Kimbrough and Ashley Langen were too much for the Coyotes inside. Langen finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. The two were constantly double teamed by the smaller Coyotes.

"I was really impressed with Kimbrough and Langen," Lavin said. "They did a better job of handling the double team this year than last year. When you double, you're going to give up offensive rebounds. But that's a risk I'd take again."

UND outrebounded South Dakota 54-29. The Sioux had 24 offensive rebounds and were credited with 22 second-chance points.

UND's overall play in the first 15 minutes was crisp.

"We came out firing," Kimbrough said.

UND used its rebounding advantage and solid shooting to cruise to an 11-point lead with six minutes to go in the first half. The cruise turned choppy, however, when the Coyotes - the best 3-point shooting team in the NCC - began to hit from the perimeter. South Dakota dropped in four 3-pointers in the final 4:31 to pull within one at halftime.

Hoffman, a transfer from Texas State, did the most damage against the Sioux, scoring eight of South Dakota's final 16 points of the first half. Hoffman led South Dakota with 20 points, while Bridget Yoerger (17), Daly (16) and Natalie Carda (16) also were in double figures.

The Sioux withstood South Dakota's late first-half run. Then, the Sioux had to withstand another run late in the second half.

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"When they came at us, we didn't get flustered," Roebuck said. "We stayed with our game plan."

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