Becker’s 23 points help #4 SD cruise past Minnesota State

Becker's 23 points help #4 SD cruise past Minnesota State
Led by 23 points off the bench from Jesse Becker, The University of South Dakota men's basketball team ran past Minnesota State University 80-61. With the win the Coyotes, who are ranked 4th in the nation, move to within a half a game of MSU for first place in the NCC.

Coming off of two of their lowest shooting performances of the season, the Coyotes (19-1, 4-1 NCC) showed very few signs of their recent shooting woes as they shot 52.6 percent (30-of-57) from the floor. Minnesota State (16-5, 5-1 NCC), however, did not share USD's good shooting fortune.

The Mavericks shot just 32.9 percent from the floor and were 3-of-22 from the three-point line.

The Coyotes jumped on MSU early, staking a nine-point lead just under four minutes into the game. Three-pointers by Dylan Grimsley (Jr., Sioux City, IA) and Eric Hall (Sr., Huron) boosted The U to an 8-0 lead. Mitch Gosson made a layup to give the Mavericks their first points of the game, but USD responded with basket and a free throw to go up 11-2.

Minnesota State would put together a run of its own by also going on an 8-0 run to cut the Coyote lead to 11-10. They picked up another basket from Gosson and a pair of baskets from Atila Santos, one of which cut the USD lead down to one.

The one-point deficit would be as close as MSU would get for the rest of the game. Back-to-back layups by Becker and Mitch Begeman (Jr., Sioux Falls) got South Dakota back in rhythm. Becker and Begeman would then go on to hit three 3-pointers in a span of 2:02 to put the Coyotes up 24-13.

The two teams traded baskets for most of the final minutes of the first half as the Coyotes took a 41-30 lead into intermission. Santos opened up the second half with a basket to cut the lead down to nine before USD would go on another run, this time outscoring Minnesota State 7-1. That scoring burst allowed the Coyotes to hold onto a double-digit lead for all but one minute and 31 seconds in the remainder of the game.

Becker's three-point shooting proved to be a huge lift for South Dakota. He finished the night shooting 5-of-7 from behind the arc and was 9-of-13 overall from the field. His 23 points were a game-high and it marked fourth time this season that he came off the bench and scored over 20.

Hall and Steve Smith (Jr., Sioux Falls) also posted double-figures for the Coyotes.

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