Coyote cagers improve record South Dakota ran its record to 5-0 with a pair of wins in the Minnesota-Duluth American Family Insurance Classic last Saturday and Sunday in Duluth, MN.
The Coyotes opened with a come-from-behind 84-78 win over Minnesota-Duluth. The next day USD rolled to a 74-54 decision over Minnesota-Crookston. Last Thursday in the Dome, the Coyotes posted an 87-67 victory over Dana College.
South Dakota shot 44.4 percent in the first half and trailed Minnesota-Duluth, 46-37 at halftime. In the second half, the Coyotes stormed back hitting 59.3 percent from the field. USD faced its biggest deficit of the game at 78-68 with 5:44 remaining.
Nathan Blessen, who was named co-NCC Player of the Week and the MVP of the Classic, hit a jumper for a 78-70 deficit and it was all Coyotes as USD held the Bulldogs scoreless the rest of the way with a 16-0 scoring run.
The Coyotes, who shot 51.9 percent for the game, were led by Blessen's 24 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals. Ben Ries, who received the Classic's Sixth Man Award, had 15 points on five three-point field goals. Jason Barrow finished with 15 points and five rebounds, and
Jeremy Kudera popped in 11. Kudera was selected to the all-tournament team. Eric Hickenbottom had seven points with six apiece for Nate Tibbetts and Seth Ahrendt.
South Dakota led Minnesota-Crookston, 31-23, at halftime before outscoring the Trojans, 43-31, in the second half. Blessen finished with 20 points and five rebounds. Kudera notched 13 points and five boards, and Ries connected for 11 points.
Ahrendt had nine points and three blocked shots, while Tibbetts and Hickenbottom added eight and six points, respectively. USD shot 46.3 percent, including 51.7 in the second half.
The Coyotes landed four players in double scoring figures against Dana led by Kudera's 22 points and eight rebounds. Blessen tallied 20 points, three assists, three steals and five blocked shots. Ahrendt had 11 points and he blocked four shots.
Tibbetts finished with 10 points, eight assists and two steals. The Coyotes, who had 12 blocked shots, shot 51.9 percent from the field and USD outrebounded the Vikings, 41-37.