With the win, USD became the first North Central Conference member to defeat Athletes in Action. Previously, AIA downed North Dakota, 94-88 (Nov. 7); Minnesota-Duluth, 76-65 (Nov. 2); and Augustana, 95-87 (Nov. 1).
Division II Preseason Player of the Year and returning All-American Turner Trofholz (Schuyler, NE) paced the Coyotes with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field and 1-of-1 at the free throw line. He also pulled down seven rebounds in 35 minutes of play.
Sophomore Eric Hall (Huron) hit 5-of-11 three-pointers en route to 20 total points, while fellow sophomore Dustin Little (Castlewood) had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Senior David Nour (Armour) added 12 points.
Also for the Coyotes, freshman center Ross Winnekins (Plymouth, MN) had 16 points and eight rebounds.
USD, who led 49-41 at halftime, held an 18-point lead with 3:19 remaining in the first half on three of junior Darrick Leonard's (Hazel Crest, IL) 14 points.
In the second half, Athletes in Action tied the game at 54-54 at 16:27 on a three-pointer by Tim Gray.
AIA's lone lead came at 10:01, when Gray made a lay-up to give the visitors a 70-68 lead.
However, Trofholz hit a bucket at 9:39 to tie the game, 70-70. Winnekins made one of two free throws to put USD ahead for good, 71-70, at 9:01.
In the remaining nine minutes, the Coyotes built 10-point leads on two occasions, including a 100-90 advantage with seven seconds left on a Hall lay-up after USD broke the AIA press.
For the game, USD shot 53.5 percent (38-of-71) from the field and connected on 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) three-pointers. The Coyotes also shot 72.2 percent (13-of-18) from the free throw line.
Conversely, AIA shot 46.1% (35-of-76) from the field and 34.5% (10-of-29) from behind the three-point arc. Athletes in Action matched USD in free throw shooting, by also making 13-of-18.
Kenny Smith led AIA with 27 points, while Eric Brand recorded 24 points. Gray scored 14 points, while Tim Lyle and Brian O'Neal had 13 and 11, respectively.
USD will open the 2005-06 season in the DakotaDome with the Coyote Basketball Classic, Nov. 18-19. South Dakota will entertain Northern Michigan on Friday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. and Bemidji State on Saturday, Nov. 19, also at 8 p.m.