Coyotes win 17th over St. Cloud State

Coyotes win 17th over St. Cloud State The fourth ranked University of South Dakota Coyotes pushed their record to 17-0 and 8-0 in the North Central Conference with a hard fought 73-63 win over a young but scrappy St. Cloud State University Huskies team Friday night in the DakotaDome.

Before nearly 3,300 fans, the Coyotes jumped to a 22-13 lead on the strength of senior guard Ben Ries' four 3-pointers.

The Norfolk, NE, senior totaled 20 points on the night. But the Huskies hung tough, although they could not draw closer than 9 points before halftime. The Coyotes moved their 37-28 lead to 14 early in the second half before the Huskies made a run at the Coyotes. Behind sophomore Rado Rancik's 3 points, they drew to 54-51. Then the veteran leadership of the Coyotes paid dividends.

Junior center Jason Barrow hit from underneath, senior forward Nate Blessen knocked down a three and junior forward Jeremy Kudera took a great pass from junior guard Nate Tibbetts to open the lead back to 10 points with 5:40 to play. After a 5-point St. Cloud run, the Coyotes used Ries' fifth 3-pointer, along with inside baskets by Barrow and Blessen plus free throws by Tibbetts and Ries to move the lead to 72-56 with two minutes to play.

"We played well to beat the Huskies tonight," head coach Dave Boots said to the Yankton Press and Dakotan. "We had one of our better defensive games, holding a good-shooting team to 39 percent for the game, but they stayed with us and it certainly wasn't an easy win for us. But," he added, "that's the way it will be all the rest of the year. Everyone will set their caps for us and we won't have an easy weekend."

For the game USD shot only 24-55 from the field for only 43.6 percent. However the Coyotes hit 8-20 from the 3-point area and knocked down 17-21 (81 percent) free throws. St. Cloud hit just 25-63 shots for 39 percent and was only 6-20 from behind the arc.

Barrow and Blessen scored 17 points and Kudera had 10 points as four Coyotes reached double figures. Tibbetts had 11 assists and five more steals as the floor general again showed outstanding court leadership from the point. Barrow led USD with 11 rebounds.

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