Coyotes post road sweep February 5-6 South Dakota posted an important road sweep over North Dakota State and North Dakota February 5-6.
The Coyotes improved their North Central Conference-leading record to 11-2 and 19-3 overall. USD has a three-game lead in the NCC race with five games remaining. Minnesota State and North Dakota each have five conference losses.
USD rolled to an 89-61 win over North Dakota State and followed that with a close 84-82 decision over North Dakota. The Coyotes' two NCC losses this season were to the North Dakota schools January 8-9 in Vermillion.
The Coyotes, who swept UND and NDSU on the road for the first time since 1993, are looking for their fifth 20-win season in seven years and seventh in 11 seasons. USD has notched at least 10 NCC wins for eight consecutive years. The Coyotes are currently riding a seven-game winning streak — the school's best since 1993.
South Dakota, which owns the best shooting percentage (.523) and the best three-point percentage (.452) in the nation, shot a torrid 61.4 percent against NDSU. The Coyotes held a 39-32 halftime lead before outscoring the Bison, 50-29, in the second half by hitting 66.7 percent.
USD, which forced the Bison into 16 turnovers and a 43.4 shooting percentage, was led by Nathan Blessen's 20 points and six rebounds. He was 9-for-11 from the field along with three assists. Jason Barrow had a personal Coyote high of 19 points, followed by Jeremy Kudera with 12 and 11 for Kory Petzenhauser.
The Coyotes outrebounded the Bison, 32-29, paced by Kudera's nine boards.
USD's game with North Dakota was close the entire way with neither team holding more than an eight-point lead. The Coyotes managed a 42-39 halftime margin, before the Sioux answered in the second half.
UND took an eight-point spread at 57-49 only to have the Coyotes assume a 65-63 lead on Kudera's three-point field goal. The Sioux took a brief 73-72 margin before Ben Ries nailed a three-pointer for a 75-73 lead. Ries made another three-pointer to make it 78-75 only to have the Sioux tie it at 78-78. The game was tied again at 82-82 with 13 seconds showing.
The Coyotes then drove the court and Ries hit a shot from the corner with four seconds remaining for the win.
South Dakota once again shot well hitting 52.5 percent, including 10 of 21 from three-point range. Ries and Blessen scored 18 points apiece. Petzenhauser had 15 points, and Kudera, who didn't score in the first half, finished with 13 points.
Barrow and Anestis Tsakalaidis followed with eight and seven points, respectively. Blessen and Barrow led with five rebounds apiece.
During the two games with the North Dakota schools, the Coyotes were 24 of 28 from the free throw line for 85.7 percent.