Kudera leads USD to victory over Wayne State When The University of South Dakota and Wayne State College get together in basketball, the growing likelihood is that it will be a wire-to-wire game decided in the final seconds.
That case bore itself out again Nov. 17 when USD (1-0) successfully opened their 2000-01 season with a 86-80 overtime win over the Wildcats (1-3) at the Quad State Classic.
USD, who overcame a late 9-point second half deficit, outscored Wayne State 11-5 in overtime to win the season-opening encounter.
Jeremy Kudera had 26 points, including 12 of 12 from the free throw line, and six rebounds to lead the Coyotes. Junior college transfer Jimmie Foster had 18 points in his debut as a Coyote while Eric Hickenbottom tallied 10 points for USD, who shot the ball well, making 28-of-50 shots (.560).
While the Coyotes struggled from the 3-point line, hitting just five of 16 (.313), they made 25-of-32 (.781) free throws, including 16 of 18 in the second half and overtime.
In a post-game interview, USD head coach Dave Boots was pleased with his team's effort but he knows they have work to do.
"It was a good win for us against a good team," said Boots, who won his 250th game at USD (250-49). "I know we need to play better but they (Coyotes) hung in there and fought back. Anytime you win in overtime, you have to give your team a lot of credit."
Early on both teams traded leads until Wayne State opened up a 17-11 lead at the 10:48 mark of the first half on a jumper by Jason Herlitzke, who had 17 first half points and 27 for the game. The Coyotes fought back as senior guard Nate Tibbetts, who scored 8 points and handed out five assists, made consecutive field goals to tie the game at 17-17 with 9:59 to play.
A 3-pointer by junior college transfer Paul Marshall gave the Coyotes a 20-17 lead. Then, the Wildcats outscored USD 22-12 in the final nine minutes to grab a 7-point advantage at halftime. Wayne State held a 19-8 rebound advantage in the first half, including eight offensive boards to just three for the Coyotes.
After Wayne State opened up a 51-42 lead at the 13-minute mark of the second half, the Coyotes responded when freshman Steve Anderson knocked down a 3-pointer, and shortly thereafter, Hickenbottom scored on a 3-point play off a drive and foul to pull within 53-48 with 12:01 to play.
The Wildcats upped the advantage to 9 points, 61-52, at the 7:27 mark on a basket by Brad Joens, who finished with 21 points. After a pair of free throws by the Coyotes' Marshall, Herlitzke hit another jumper to give Wayne State a 63-54 lead.
At that point, the Coyotes upped their intensity level and made their comeback against the Wildcats. First, Foster scored off a jumper and then Kudera dialed in from long distance to pull the Coyotes to 63-59. Two free throws by Travis James cut the deficit to 2 and then a jumper by Tibbetts tied the score at 65-65 with 3:25 to play.
Wayne State regained a 2- point advantage on a pair of Herlitzke free throws before senior Jason Barrow, who had 7 points, knocked home a 3-pointer to give the Coyotes a 68-67 lead with 2:22 to play, their first advantage since early in the first half. After two free throws by Joens, Kudera hit another 3-pointer for a 71-69 edge, but Wayne State made two free throws by Brad Manley.
The Coyotes grabbed a 74-71 lead with 1:18 to play on a free throw by James and a jumper by Foster, but the Wildcats answered with a Herlitzke jumper. James hit another free throw to give the Coyotes a 2- point lead before Joens converted a jumper with two seconds to play to send the game into overtime.
Foster scored the first four points of overtime as Coyotes grabbed the lead for good at 79-75 with 4:32 to play. With 1:52 to play, Hickenbottom hit a jumper to move the lead to 81-78 and added a free throw with 27 seconds to play to give USD a 82-78 lead. Then the Coyotes used free throw shooting to close out the game.
"In the first half we didn't rebound very well," Kudera said during a post-game interview. "We came out better in the second half, rebounded better and played better defense and fought to the end. We were able to stop them inside, and we got the ball inside ourselves to Jason (Barrow) and Jimmie (Foster) in the second half."
"I felt we should have played better in first half ? offensive rebounding killed us," said Boots. "Herlitzke hurt us in the opening half. Jeremy and Jason picked it up in the second half, and our individual defense was much better. Our bench played very well. As we play more games, they (the bench) will become more comfortable in what they have to do."
"Certainly our level of intensity improved in the second half, especially with about six minutes to play. It was a real close game that could have gone either way. We made some stops when we needed to," said Boots.
Wayne State hit 31-of-63 shots (.492) and was 13-of-15 (.867) from the free throw line. They outrebounded USD, 31-24. Also scoring in double figures for Wayne State was Kevin Lingenfelter, who had 13 points including three baskets from beyond the 3-point arc.