USD men's season ends with semifinal loss The South Dakota men's basketball team's (22-10) season came to an end with a 96-80 loss to seventh-ranked Nebraska-Kearney (28-4) in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II North Central Regional Sunday night at the Auraria Events Center in Denver, CO.
Junior Josh Mueller (Hartford) led the Coyotes in scoring with 19 points, to go along with four assists and four steals. Four other Coyotes scored in double figures as senior Doug Hanson (Meckling) had 14 points; sophomore Turner Trofholz (Schuyler, NE) had 13 points, while senior forwards Tommie King (Seattle, WA) and Derek Paben (Pickrell, NE) added 12 points a piece.
UNK's Nick Branting proved to be too much for South Dakota with 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting. Brian Dunagan added 21 points, including hitting 5-of-9 three-pointers, for the Lopers.
Nebraska-Kearney jumped out to a 19-8 lead with 15 minutes to play in the opening frame. USD answered with six straight points to cut the Loper lead to five, but UNK went on a 12-4 spurt to take a 13-point, 31-18 advantage with 11:00 on the clock. Nebraska-Kearney, which hit six three-point field
goals in the first half, led by as many as 16 points before taking a 14-point, 52-38 lead into the locker room at the half.
UNK built its lead to 15 points at 67-52 with 14:12 to play, but the Coyotes were able to cut the lead to nine with an 8-2 run, putting the score to 69-60 with 11:15 to go. South Dakota pulled to within eight on two occasions, but could not get over the hump as Nebraska-Kearney moved on the regional final.
The Lopers shot 55.9 percent (38-of-68) for the game, including hitting 60 percent of their shots in the second half (18-of-30). South Dakota was held to 44.4 percent shooting (28-of-63) and 7-of-22 from the three-point line (31.8 percent).
USD, which opened the conference season with four straight losses, rebounded to win 12 of its final 16 games to close out the season on a strong note, becoming the ninth team in school history to advance to the NCAA tournament.