Men’s basketball team defeats Mustangs

Men's basketball team defeats Mustangs
The University of South Dakota men's basketball team unveiled a new starting lineup in a non-conference match-up against Morningside, and it proved effective as the Coyotes shot 62.7 percent from the field to motor past the Mustangs 82-60. The victory improved USD's record to 5-4 on the year while Morningside fell to 7-4.

Junior forward Eric Hall (Huron) made his first start in five games and led all players with 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-7 from beyond the three-point line. Hall, who also contributed seven rebounds, had 19 of his 23 points in the first half.

Making his first start of the season, and appearing in just his second game of the year, was sophomore forward Rane Mergen (Dell Rapids), and he made the most of it with a solid all-around performance. Mergen tied a career-high with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and set a career-high with eight boards, which was also the high mark of the game by any player. He also had a game-high three blocked shots and two steals.

Sophomore guard Jesse Becker (Plymouth, MN) and sophomore swingman Dylan Grimsley (Sioux City, IA) each had 14 points on the evening. Becker made 3-of-7 three-pointers while dishing out a game-high eight assists, which tied his season-high. Grimsley made 7-of-10 shots from the field.

Sophomore center Steve Smith (Sioux Falls) came off the bench for the first time this season and responded with 10 points, on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting night, and three rebounds. Freshman forward Tyler Cain (Rochester, MN) added six rebounds, a season-best four assists and a pair of blocked shots.

Guard Thomas Pargett was the only Mustang to reach double digits in scoring by going for 17 along with tying for the team-lead with five rebounds.

Morningside actually held a 6-2 lead nearly two minutes into the game. However, USD unleashed an 18-2 run over the next 6:56 of play to take a 20-8 lead, one they never would relinquish. South Dakota got the lead to as high as 14 several times throughout the rest of the first half before settling in for a 39-27 halftime lead.

The Mustangs closed to within 10 points twice in the beginning of the second half, but the Coyotes quickly pulled away thanks to its suffocating defense. To start the final frame, USD limited Morningside to just 3-of-16 shooting while gradually growing its advantage to as high as 23 points.

The Coyotes will continue their four-game homestand on Saturday, Dec. 9, when they host Valley City State in a non-conference tilt starting at 1 p.m.

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