USD drops 62-56 decision to Mavericks

USD drops 62-56 decision to Mavericks South Dakota men's basketball team (21-5, 14-4 in the NCC) had trouble putting the ball in the basket and lost a North Central Conference men's basketball game to Minnesota State-Mankato, 62-56, at Mankato on Saturday night, Feb. 24.

For the first time this season, South Dakota has lost two games in a row.

South Dakota, which entered the weekend with six straight NCC wins, finished their regular season, 21-5, including a 14-4 NCC mark. Despite the loss, South Dakota has won their third straight NCC title.

Now, the Coyotes will return home to host the Wells Fargo/NCC Postseason Tournament on Friday and Saturday, March 1-2.

In first round games, SDSU, seeded No. 2, hosted No. 7 seeded Augustana in Brookings on Tuesday. The Jackrabbits won that game 88-74. No. 6 seed North Dakota played at No. 3 seeded St. Cloud State while No. 5 seeded Minnesota State-Mankato faced No. 4 seeded Morningside in Sioux City, IA. The Coyotes will play the winner, Minnesota State-Mankato, who beat Morningside Tuesday night 91-72.

With a winter storm brewing outside, the Coyotes had the chills inside as they struggled offensively against the Mavericks. South Dakota managed to make just 20 of 51 field goals for 39.2 percent, including nine of 32 3-point field goal attempts for 28.1 percent. They made seven of 10 free throws.

Neither team had success on the offensive end. The Mavericks hit just 18 of 48 field goals for 37.5 percent and were eight of 18 from 3-point range for 44.4 percent. They hit 18 of 27 free throws.

Things started out okay for the Coyotes as senior forward Jeremy Kudera canned a 3-pointer for a 3-0 lead. Then, the Mavericks scored 8 of the next 10 points to grab an 8-5 lead. A lay-up by senior guard Nate Tibbetts gave the Coyotes an 11-8 lead and another Tibbetts lay-up enabled the Coyotes to move ahead 15-10.

But then South Dakota shooting went awry. Minnesota State-Mankato outscored the Coyotes 14-8 to grab a 24-23 halftime lead. South Dakota scored just 4 points in the final 8:38 of the first half.

A 3-pointer by Tibbetts gave South Dakota a 26-24 lead to open the second half. The Mavericks' Josh Ziemke hit a jumper to give the home team a 30-29 lead. South Dakota's Paul Marshall managed to knock home a 3-pointer to tie the game at 33-33. However, that scored was answered by a 3-point shot by Drew Carlson as the Mavericks jumped ahead 36-33.

They extended the margin to 43-38 on another Carlson 3-pointer. The lead grew to 47-40 when Carlson made a pair of foul shots. Tibbetts connected on two free throws to cut the margin to 47-42.

Trailing 49-42, the Coyotes received consecutive 3-point bombs from Kudera and Marshall to whittle the lead to 51-48, but that was as close as the Coyotes would get.

The Mavericks' Nick Ellenbecker hit a jumper and then Carlson hit a 3-pointer for a 57-51 lead. Minnesota State led 59-51 with 56 seconds left when Ellenbecker hit a pair of foul shots. With 20 seconds left, Tibbetts hit another 3-pointer, his third of the game, to give South Dakota some life. But the Mavericks' Kyle Staloch hit a free throw with 16 seconds left and the Coyotes were unable to score in the closing seconds.

Tibbetts led the Coyotes in scoring for the second straight night, totaling 17 points. He also had five assists, three steals and five rebounds. Marshall had 13 points while Jimmie Foster and Kudera scored 9 points. Jason Barrow led the Coyotes with nine rebounds.

Tibbetts' three steals moved him into first-place on the Coyotes' career steals list with 210.

The Mavericks received 19 points from Carlson and 15 points from Eric Siebrands while Ellenbecker had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Minnesota State-Mankato also won the rebound battle, 40-27.

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