USD men drop first NCC game against SDSU

USD men drop first NCC game against SDSU Tenth-ranked University of South Dakota (9-2, 3-1 NCC) suffered its first loss in the North Central Conference when they struggled through a tough shooting night in falling to No. 20 South Dakota State 91-79 in men's basketball at Frost Arena Saturday night, Dec. 30.

In a meeting between two schools that have won eight of the last nine conference titles, it was the home team that gained an early advantage as the Jackrabbits used a large halftime advantage to win the 58th meeting between USD and South Dakota State.

USD could not sustain their offense in the first half while SDSU was able to knock home shots, including several from long range.

In the opening half, SDSU (9-1, 3-1 NCC) was shooting lights out. The Jacks hit 33 of 64 (.516) shots for the game, but, in the important opening half, they were 20 of 37 (.541) as they built a 52-33 lead. The Jacks, who have lost 14 of the last 21 games to the Coyotes, hit nine of 16 3-point field goals in first 20 minutes.

For the game, the Jacks knocked down half of their 24 3-point field goals and were 13 of 16 (.813) from the free throw line. Meanwhile the Coyotes were just 28 of 70 (.400) from the field, including just 11 of 36 (.306) from the field in the first half.

Overall the Coyotes hit 11 of 30 (.367) 3-point field goals and 12 of 16 (.750) free throws. SDSU's win moved their series advantage over the Coyotes to 109-85-1 and improved their record at Frost Arena to 18-10 against USD.

SDSU jumped to an 8-2 lead at the 18:24 mark and maintained an advantage throughout the first half. The Coyotes fought back to within 1 point at 15-14 when freshman Steve Anderson knocked home a 3-point basket at the 12:27 mark. But from that point on SDSU outscored the Coyotes 37-19.

SDSU's Andy Cone and Ryan Johnson each pumped in 13 points. Johnson hit three of five 3-point field goals while Cone hit six of eight shots from the field. Junior guard Paul Marshall and junior forward Jimmie Foster each had 8 points for the Coyotes. The 52-33 deficit is the biggest deficit that the Coyotes have faced this season.

USD had led in eight of 10 games coming into the night, but USD struggled from the start. The 52 points allowed by USD is nearly what Coyotes were allowing opponents for an entire game (59.4 ppg).

While the Coyotes showed offensive spark during periods of the second half, the situation remained nearly the same as the first half. The Coyotes could not sustain any offensive momentum. Early in the second half, Marshall hit a 3-point basket to draw USD within 56-42 at the 17:57 mark. But a 3-pointer by SDSU's Luke Congill moved the advantage for SDSU to 64-45 with 14:50 to play.

Nonetheless, USD guard Nate Tibbetts did his best to bring the Coyotes back. Even his career-high 20 points did not alter the outcome. Tibbetts made several plays including a stretch midway through the second half when he scored 9 points in a two-minute period. Still the Coyotes fought till the end.

The Coyotes moved within 78-65 on a Foster basket with 7:47 to play. Then SDSU received a 3-point basket from Johnson and found Cone inside for a basket and a 83-67 lead with 6:05 to play, which pretty much sealed the deal. A 3-point basket by Eric Hickenbottom brought USD to within 91-77 with 1:13 to play, and the Coyotes moved to within 12 at 91-79 when Richard Ross scored on a drive with about 20 seconds to play.

Tibbetts led the Coyotes with 20 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals. Foster had his first double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Senior forward Jeremy Kudera added 15 points and Marshall had 11 points. Anderson had 7 points and 11 rebounds.

SDSU was paced by Cone with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Johnson added 16 points, and Austin Hansen had 12. Chris Stoebner and Cody Volmer both scored 11 for the Jacks. SDSU and USD each had 39 rebounds.

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