USD rallies for 64-62 win against Bears

USD rallies for 64-62 win against Bears South Dakota men's basketball team (18-3, 11-2 in the NCC) rallied from a 9-point deficit in the final two minutes and senior guard Nate Tibbetts knocked home two free throws with 2.2 seconds to play to cap a dramatic, 64-62 come-from behind victory over the Northern Colorado Bears in North Central Conference basketball at Greeley, CO, Feb. 3.

"We made some big defensive plays as Jason (Barrow) had a big block and Jeremy (Kudera) hit a bigtime shot late in the game," said Coyote head basketball coach Dave Boots. "It was a big comeback and a great rally by our team. Northern Colorado can really play. They have great shooters and are strong inside. But you have to credit our players for making the plays to put us into the position to win. It is just a great win."

The night before, on Feb. 2, the Coyotes edged Nebraska-Omaha, 70-67, in Omaha as Kudera came to the rescue with a late 3-point basket. On Saturday night, Kudera again showed his senior leadership and resolve as he keyed another Coyotes victory. He hit two 3-point baskets in the final 78 seconds of the game and his 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to play tied the score at 62-62. Then, Kudera grabbed a rebound, passed it to Tibbetts, who was fouled and made the critical free throws for the win.

Kudera, a two-time GTE all-American forward, had 23 points and eight rebounds, including four of seven 3-point baskets. Over the weekend, Kudera scored 48 points and grabbed 18 rebounds along with a number of big time shots and rebounds. For his efforts, he was named NCC Player of the Week.

The victory kept the Coyotes all alone in first place in the NCC with their 11th win in 13 conference games this season.

Early on, South Dakota appeared to have its offensive game in order. They scored 7 of the game's first 9 points, including baskets by Foster and Marshall and a Kudera 3-point basket. But that lead was short-lived as the Bears grabbed a 12-11 lead on a 3-point basket by Jared Ramirez.

Two free throws by Foster gave the Coyotes a 17-16 lead. UNC outscored the Coyotes 6-2 to grab a 22-19 lead when Kevin Knudson hit a 3-point basket. Later, a lay-up by Kudera tied the game at 27-27.

But the Bears owned the rest of the half, outscoring South Dakota, 10-5, as freshman Michael Morse hit back to back 3-point baskets in the final minute and UNC led 37-32 at the break.

South Dakota hit 11 of 22 field goals for 50 percent in the opening half but were just one of six from 3-point range. They hit nine of 10 free throws for 90 percent. Barrow had 12 points and Kudera added 10 scores to lead the Coyotes in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Bears hit 12 of 24 field goals for 50 percent and were hot from 3-point range. They hit seven of 12 3-pointers for 58.3 percent in the half. They were six of nine from the free throw line for 66.7 percent. The Bears, who received 8 points from Matt Murray and Michael Morse, outrebounded the Coyotes, 15-11, in the opening half.

Just like the opening minutes of the game, the Coyotes came out on fire early in the second half. They outscored UNC, 7-2, to tie the game at 39-39. Then, the Bears took control of the game. UNC grabbed a 56-46 lead after Morse hit a 3-pointer. A basket by Murray gave the Bears a 58-48 lead.

Things looked a bit grim for the Coyotes as they trailed by 9 points with 2:23 to play when the Bears' Reggie York scored inside. But the Coyotes found a way to hang tough in the final two minutes. Foster scored a lay-up with 2:06 to play, Kudera hit a 3-point basket with 1:18 to play, and Marshall made a free throw with 34 seconds left to draw the Coyotes within 62-59, setting up Kudera's bigtime shot and Tibbetts game-winning free throws.

Overall, the Coyotes made 21 of 43 field goals for 48.8 percent, although they were just four of 13 from 3-point range. Marshall, who scored 7 points, had his 20-game streak of hitting at least one-3-point basket ended against UNC. South Dakota was 18 of 22 from the free throw line for 81.8 percent.

South Dakota evened the rebound battle in the second half as both teams finished with 26 boards. Barrow finished with 17 points and seven rebounds while Foster had 13 points. Tibbetts finished with 4 points and seven assists.

The Bears were led by Murray with 15 points and Morse who had 11 scores. York had 10 points. Overall, the Bears hit 22 of 47 field goals for 46.8 percent. They connected on 10 of 21 3-point baskets for 47.6 percent. They hit eight of 12 free throws.

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