Coyotes top UNC, UNO to run winning streak South Dakota took over sole possession of first-place in the North Central Conference with a road sweep over Northern Colorado and Nebraska-Omaha Jan. 2 and 3.
The Coyotes rallied to defeat Northern Colorado, 70-64, and followed that with an 84-83 overtime decision over Nebraska-Omaha. USD stretched its winning streak to 10 straight and improved to 12-1 overall and 4-0 in the NCC. The last time the Coyotes opened the North Central Conference season with a 4-0 slate was 1993 when USD won its first of two straight conference titles.
South Dakota hosts North Dakota and North Dakota State this Friday and Saturday. UND is 8-4 overall and 2-1 in the league, while the Bison are 9-3 and are in second-place in the NCC at 3-0 following a
76-73 win over North Dakota Sunday.
The Coyotes trailed Northern Colorado, 33-30, at halftime but came back in the second half and outscored the Bears, 40-31. Nathan Blessen paced USD with 19 points on nine of 13 shooting from the field. Ben Ries, who was 4-for-6 from three-point range, finished with 17 points. Jeremy Kudera, who hit a crucial basket with 30 seconds to play to put USD ahead, 67-62, tossed in 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Jason Barrow had eight points and Nate Tibbetts added seven. USD shot 55.6 percent to 44.1 for Northern Colorado. The Coyotes also held a 35-28 edge in rebounds.
South Dakota posted a 37-34 halftime lead over Nebraska-Omaha, but the Mavericks answered in the second half. Trailing by 10 points at 53-43 with 13:42 to play, the Mavericks forced overtime with a three-point field goal that tied the game at 73-73 with five seconds remaining. UNO opened the extra session with another three-pointer for a 76-73 lead, but the Coyotes came back and eventually took the lead for good at 81-80 with 1:26 showing on a basket by Joey James. Kory Petzenhauser made one of two free throws for an 84-80 lead with 10 seconds left. The charity conversion proved crucial when UNO hit a three-pointer with a fraction of a second remaining.
Petzenhauser had his best game as a Coyote with 17 points and eight rebounds. He was one of five players in double scoring figures. Kudera had 14 points and seven rebounds, while James had 13 points. Blessen and Barrow each finished with 12 points. Tibbetts notched six points, three steals and 10 assists. USD once again shot well hitting 52.6 percent to UNO's 49.3. The Coyotes also outrebounded the Mavericks, 36-29.