USD moves to 5-2 in NCC with 85-81 win over Morningside South Dakota, ranked No. 20 in the NABC Division II poll, got back on the winning trail with an 85-81 win at Morningside last Saturday. The Coyotes improved to 13-3 overall and a three-way tie for second-place in the North Central Conference at 5-2. USD plays at St. Cloud State and Minnesota State this Friday and Saturday.
The Coyotes trailed by eight points on five different occasions midway through the first half. USD faced a six-point deficit at 36-30 with 4:07 left before taking a one-point lead at 37-36 at the 3:04 mark on a three-point field goal by Ben Ries. It remained close and the first half ended in a 40-40 deadlock. In the second half Morningside held a 54-52 lead with 11:20 remaining in the game. At the 10:46 mark, Nathan Blessen converted one of two free throws to give the Coyotes a 55-54 lead and USD never trailed again. The Coyotes continued to build their spread and eventually opened up a 12-point cushion at 74-62 with 2:19 left. The Mustangs cut into the margin and came within three points at 84-81 before Joey James hit one of two free throws with five seconds to play that sealed the win.
South Dakota had four players in double scoring figures paced by Blessen's 28 points. James and Ries came off the bench for 16 and 14 points, respectively. Jeremy Kudera had 11 points. Kory Petzenhauser tossed in seven points and Jason Barrow added six points. The Coyotes, who shot 48.2 percent from the field, outrebounded the Mustangs, 49-37, led by Blessen and Petzenhauser with nine rebounds apiece.