South Dakota's strong finish leads to 82-77 win Friday On triple deuces day, it was freshman guard Josh Mueller's double double that helped the South Dakota men's basketball team (16-5, 8-5 in the NCC) defeat Northern Colorado (12-9, 7-6 in the NCC), 98-87, in North Central Conference action at the DakotaDome on Saturday night before 3,132 in attendance.
The Coyotes overcame an 11-0 start to record their 16th win of the season and eighth win in 13 conference games.
Mueller, a freshman from Hartford, scored 11 points, recorded five steals and had a career-high 16 assists in 40 minutes of action on Saturday night. While Mueller had his second double double of the season, several other Coyotes had big contributions in the win.
With Mueller dishing the ball, three other Coyotes reached double figures, including senior shooting guard Paul Marshall who scored 32 points.
Marshall hit 11 of 19 field goals, including three of nine from three-point range as he broke the 30-point barrier for the second time in his career. He had a career high 33 points vs. Nebraska-Omaha in the Dome on Jan. 6.
Marshall now has 112 three-point field goals in his career, which is ninth best on South Dakota all-time charts. Other double-digit scorers for South Dakota included Jimmie Foster with 17 points, and Steve Anderson with 16 points and eight rebounds.
With the win, South Dakota improved its home record to 11-1 this season, including 5-1 in NCC games. South Dakota now sits in fourth place in the NCC with five games to play. The Coyotes ended UNC's five-game winning streak.
Early on, it appeared Northern Colorado was going to win their sixth straight game. The Bears opened up an 11-0 lead at the 18:09 mark as Sean Nolen had two three-point baskets and Aaron Austin also connected from long distance. But, this was comeback weekend for South Dakota. On Friday night,
the Coyotes overcame a 10-point second half deficit to defeat Nebraska-Omaha and on Saturday, they overcame a 14-point first-half deficit.
On the night, the Coyotes hit 33 of 61 field goals for 54.1 percent, including nine of 23 three-point field goals for 39.1 percent. The Coyotes were 23 of 32 from the free throw line for 71.9 percent. In the second half
alone, the Coyotes hit 19 of 27 free throws for 70.4 percent. Eric Hickenbottom added seven points while Scott Hansen and Luke Tibbetts each
scored six points. J.D. Roberts had just three points but pulled down a team-high eight rebounds (tied with Anderson).
The Bears hit 27 of 53 field goals for 50.9 percent, including 10 of 22 three-point field goals for 45.5 percent. The Bears were 23 of 31 from the foul line for 74.2 percent. They made 16 of 20 free throws in the second half for 80 percent.
Four UNC players reached double figures, including Austin who had 24 points and Nolen, who added 22 points. Morse scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Jared Ramirez had 10 points.
While the Coyotes continued their good shooting in the second half by making 14 of 26 field goals for 53.8 percent, the Bears managed just 12 of 26 for 46.2 percent. Both teams had 31 rebounds. A key difference was turnovers as the Bears turned the ball over 15 times while South Dakota had just eight.
In addition, the Coyotes had eight steals, led by Mueller's five swipes, and UNC had just four.
The Coyotes will now travel to North Dakota for a pair of games vs. North Dakota State on Friday and North Dakota on Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. on both nights.