No. 3 Coyotes stop Bemidji State 88-79

No. 3 Coyotes stop Bemidji State 88-79 Led by 27 points from Josh Mueller, the No. 3 South Dakota men's basketball team (4-0) stayed unbeaten with an 88-79 nonconference win over Bemidji State (3-3) on Saturday night at the SDSU Thanksgiving Basketball Classic at Frost Arena in Brookings.

In the nonconference encounter, the Coyotes took a 44-36 halftime lead and led by as many as 14 points in the second half. Bemidji State pulled within 5 points late in the second half but could draw no closer.

A key to the game was points off turnovers. USD forced Bemidji State in 22 turnovers while committing just 10 against a tough full court press. The Coyotes outscored Bemidji State, 27-8, in points off turnovers.

South Dakota has now opened 4-0 for the sixth straight season and has won 52 of its last 53 nonconference encounters.

Mueller, who scored 36 points in a win over Tampa on Friday night, totaled 63 points at the Classic. Mueller made 8-of-21 field goals and 10-of-14 free throws. He also contributed four assists and two steals.

Once again, the South Dakota bench played a big role. USD's bench outscored BSU's by a 40-32 margin. Leading the play off the USD bench was senior forward Derek Paben who totaled 23 points, hitting 7-of-9 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Another key reserve, Doug Hansen, added 17 points, making 10-of-10 from the free throw line.

Also for the Coyotes, sophomore forward Turner Trofholz added 10 points, three rebounds and three steals. Junior Steve Anderson led USD with 10 rebounds and added 5 points, two blocks and an assist.

Charles Hanks had 16 points to lead Bemidji State.

South Dakota opened an 11-6 first-half lead at the 14:19 mark after a jumper by Paben. USD built the lead to 22-10 on a free throw by Mueller with 11:54 to play in the opening half.

Bemidji State answered with an 11-2 run to draw within 24-21 at the 8:02 mark. USD responded with a 13-4 run to regain a 12-point lead at 37-25 and 2:27 to play in the half. A 3-pointer by Bemidji State's Adam Daley with four seconds to play in the half cut the lead to 44-36 at halftime.

The Coyotes opened up a 12-point lead at the 13:31 mark of the second half when Paben connected from 3-point range. For the next 10 minutes, the Coyotes' lead fluctuated between 6 and 10 points. Then Paben hit a pair of foul shots to give USD a 79-65 lead with 3:40 to play.

Bemidji State wasn't done. They outscored USD, 12-3, over the next two minutes to close within, 82-77, with 1:17 to play. That was as close as BSU would get as Hanson and Mueller both made a pair of free throws in the final minute to hold off the Beavers.

Overall, South Dakota hit 42.6 percent from the field (26-of-61), but made just 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from three point range. South Dakota hit 81.1 percent (30-of-37) from the charity stripe.

Bemidji State shot 56.9 percent from the field (33-of-58), but just 37.5 percent (6-of-16) from 3-point range. They made 58.3 percent (7-of-12) from the foul line. Besides Hanks, Bemidji State received 11 points and 10 rebounds from Amir Major, 14 points from Kenneth Pointer, 12 points from Shawn Bellmon and 10 points from Adam Daley.

Next for South Dakota is a trip to the Southwest Minnesota State Tourney in Marshall, MN, on Dec. 5-6.

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