Vikings fall to Coyotes 80-70 in Sioux Falls

Vikings fall to Coyotes 80-70 in Sioux Falls It was clear that the No. 10 University of South Dakota Coyotes men's basketball team had to wear away some rust from not playing for two weeks.

The Coyotes (9-1, 3-0 NCC) had not played since a Dec. 14 win over Minnesota-Duluth in the DakotaDome. And, after struggling through the opening 20 minutes, the Coyotes were finally able to find themselves and their offense. But, unlike their trademark, it was the Coyotes' inside game and not their perimeter show that proved to be the difference.

After trailing 35-27 at the break, the Coyotes scored 53 second half points to take an 80-70 win over Augustana (6-5, 0-3 NCC) at the Elmen Center on Friday night, Dec. 29.

A 53-percent field goal shooting squad, the Coyotes hit just zero of 35 field goals in the first half for 28 percent. But due to the persistence to take the ball inside, the Coyotes improved their shooting in the second half drastically as they hit 19 of 26 field goals for a torrid 73 percent. That allowed USD to hit 47.5 percent from the field for the game.

In winning their third straight NCC game, the win improved Dave Boots' overall record to 258-101 at USD and 103-70 on the road. Boots is now 18-9 against Augustana.

Things looked good for the Coyotes early on as USD jumped to a 7-2 lead before Augustana went on a 19-7 run to grab a 21-14 lead when Jon Wagner knocked home a 3-point basket at the 7:41 mark of the first half. Then David Homan hit a 3-point basket to give the Vikings a 9-point lead at 24-15 at the 6:24 mark. But USD began finding a little success from the perimeter.

Senior forward Jeremy Kudera, who had 14 points on the night, knocked home consecutive 3-point baskets, including one from 23-feet to draw USD to 24-21 with 5:39 to play in the first half. But that offensive spark was short-lived. Augustana, who hit 12 of 30 (.400) first half field goals, took off on a 9-0 run to grab their largest lead at 33-21 with 2:22 to play when Justin Vortherms hit his only basket of the first half. The Coyotes closed the first half on a 6-2 run to pull within 35-27 at the break.

The Coyotes came out firing in the second half, outscoring Augustana 18-9 in the first 4:26 and grabbing the lead at 45-44 on Paul Marshall's 3-point basket. From there, USD worked their inside game to build the lead.

USD continually worked inside plays to center Jason Barrow and forward Jimmie Foster

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as the Vikings found it difficult to stop the Coyotes inside duo. USD received a total of 37 points from the pair as Foster had 22 points on nine of 15 shooting from the field while Barrow added 15 points and nine rebounds. Barrow converted on seven of 11 field goals.

At the 18:20 mark of the second half, Barrow scored on a dunk while Foster 7 points as the Coyotes closed within 44-42 with 16:30 to play. After Marshall worked his outside magic, the ball went back inside to Barrow for a 49-47 lead. But the Vikings answered with consecutive 3-point field goals by Wagner and Matt Wilbur to grab a 53-51 lead at the 12:42 mark. Later Wilbur hit consecutive 3-pointers as Augustana had a 59-56 lead with 10:50 to play. Then USD went back to their inside combination as Foster scored off a feed from Nate Tibbetts and hit another from inside for a 60-59 lead with 9:16 to play.

Back came the Vikings as Vortherms hit a free throw and Cody Levinson knocked home a 3-pointer with 7:57 to play as the Vikings grabbed their final lead of the night at 63-60. USD got a layup from Tibbetts and then Foster hit from 3-point range for a 65-63 lead at the 7:14 mark.

After the Vikings tied the game, Barrow scored inside, and then Eric Hickenbottom hit four straight free throws as USD opened up a 71-65 lead at the 5:12 mark. When Barrow scored inside at the 3:38 mark, the Coyotes had a 75-65 lead and with it their third straight NCC win. The Coyotes, which trailed by 12 points late in the first half, grabbed their largest lead of the game at 80-68 with 53 seconds to play.

Tibbetts had another solid game with 8 points and eight assists. Marshall had 13 points, despite struggling from the field (three of 12 field goals). Sean Hilgenberg led the Vikings with 19 points and seven rebounds while Wagner had 18 points, five assists and two steals. Wilbur added 16 points as he and Wagner both had four 3-point field goals.

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