Sophomore center Steve Smith (Sioux Falls) led the way for USD with a season-high 21 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the floor. Smith also added six rebounds while recording three blocked shots.
Sophomore guard/forward Dylan Grimsley (Sioux City, IA) added 19 points, including making all six of his free throw attempts, along with grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Both freshman forward Tyler Cain (Rochester, MN) and sophomore guard Jesse Becker (Plymouth, MN) went for 12 points on the evening, with Cain�s coming on 6-of-7 shooting, while Becker was buoyed by making all seven of his free throw chances.
Minnesota State senior guard/forward Luke Anderson scored a game-high 28 points and added six rebounds. The only other Maverick to reach double-digits in scoring was senior guard Tony Thomason, who had 12 points and a game-high six assists.
While both teams shot well from the floor in the first half, only USD kept up its success rate through the second half as it ended up connecting at a 51.9 percent clip the entire game. The Mavericks meanwhile made only 31.6 percent of their shots in the second half to end up at 41.8 percent for the game.
The Coyotes missed only one free throw on the evening in 18 attempts, shooting a season-best 94.4 percent on the evening. South Dakota also registered six blocked shots while the Mavericks were credited with none. The two squads used differing methods in scoring as USD scored 54 points in the paint, while MSU had only 18. However, Minnesota State made 11 three-point attempts compared to four for the Coyotes.
South Dakota jumped out to a quick lead with an 11-2 run to open the contest in the first 2:23 of play. However, Minnesota State clawed their way back into the game and eventually tied the score at 24-24 with 10:26 left on the clock. That set up a tight remainder of the first half as neither team led by more than five points. That five-point deficit came at the end of the first 20 minutes of action though as USD closed with a 6-1 run over the final 2:05 play to take a 47-42 lead into the break.
Once again, MSU answered the bell to open the second half of play, coming out of the locker room with an 8-2 run to take a 50-49 lead just 1:54 into action. Ultimately, that proved to be Minnesota State�s final lead of the evening as the Coyotes ripped off a 15-3 run over the next five minutes to open up a 64-53 lead.
USD�s lead grew to as much as 13 points later on, holding a 70-57 advantage with 9:09 remaining. But the Mavericks would not go away quietly, at that point embarking on an 18-6 run that closed the gap to just one point at 76-75 at the 3:19 mark. Smith responded with a lay-up on the next Coyote possession to kick-start a run of nine unanswered USD points down the stretch as the program managed to earn a split in the season-series with the Mavericks.
The Coyotes will close out their three-game home stand on Saturday, Feb. 10, when they host St. Cloud State in an NCC contest, starting at 8 p.m. in the DakotaDome.