Win over Mavericks takes Coyotes to championship

Win over Mavericks takes Coyotes to championship No. 10 South Dakota hit 17 of 26 second half shots for 65.4 to break open a close game and defeat Minnesota State-Mankato, 71-45 in a semifinal round game of the Wells Fargo North Central Conference Tournament at the DakotaDome.

South Dakota (22-5) advanced to the championship game vs. St. Cloud (23-5), a 74-72 victor over South Dakota State in the first semifinal game on Friday night.

Leading the way for South Dakota was junior forward Eric Hickenbottom, who tied a season high with 13 points while also grabbing eight rebounds, blocking a shot and dealing out an assist. Also shining for the Coyotes was Nate Tibbetts, who had 8 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists in a solid floor game. He was one of five Coyotes to record 8 points.

Junior guard Paul Marshall, junior forward Jimmie Foster, senior center Jason Barrow and freshman guard Richard Ross all had 8 points in the Coyotes' most balanced scoring game of the season. Coyotes' senior forward Jeremy Kudera had 9 points and nine rebounds.

The Coyotes hit 26 of 49 shots for 53.1 percent for the game, including eight of 21 3-point field goals and 11 of 16 from the foul line. The Mavericks hit just 30.4 percent on 17 of 56 shooting. They were just four of 19 from 3-point range and seven of 12 from the foul line.

In the opening half. South Dakota hit just 39.1 percent on nine of 23 shooting, including just five of 13 3-point field goals for 38.5 percent. Minnesota State hit six of 24 shots for 25 percent including just two of 10 from the 3-point line.

Scott Hansen led South Dakota with 5 points while Tibbetts had 4 points, four rebounds and five assists. The Mavericks received 6 points from Josh Ziemke who also had five rebounds. Both teams grabbed 17 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.

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