UND's Emmanuel Little drove the lane with .9 seconds remaining and finger-rolled the ball through the net to upset the Coyotes 78-76 Wednesday night at the DakotaDome.
Now out of the NCC title running, the Coyotes will have to wait and see if they will be in the North Central Region mix.
With nothing to lose, the Sioux came out harassing the Coyotes, but four quick fouls – including one on Eric Hall behind the arc that sent the sharp-shooter to the line for three easy free throws – helped the Coyotes jump out ahead.
More importantly, the Coyotes couldn't miss.
They hit their first five shots from the field and were five of five from the free throw line in taking a 17-5 lead. Hall highlighted the USD opening run with a 27-foot swish.
The Coyotes finally missed at the 12:12 mark of the first half, and the Sioux began to crawl back.
Josh Doyle and Ervin Youmans knocked down 3-pointers for the Fighting Sioux to trim USD's lead to 22-17.
UND was within 34-32 after Youmans dished to Wes Porter for an easy lay-in.
Hall answered for the Coyotes by stroking the net from 27 feet and Dustin Little scored an easy bucket on a dime from Tyler Cain to push the Coyotes' lead to 39-32. Jesse Becker found Cain for an easy basket and the Coyotes led uncomfortably 42-37 at the half.
When the first-half numbers were crunched, the Coyotes had shot 56-percent from the field while knocking down five of nine from 3-point land. However, the Sioux were able to stay in USD's rear-view mirror by hitting at a 48.3-percent clip.
Hall led the Coyotes with 12 points while Cain had 11 points and six rebounds.
The Sioux came out on fire – especially from behind the arc – to take their first lead of the night.
Youmans hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 42-all and then gave the Sioux their first lead at 44-42 with a lay-in. Denny Dumas and Doyle canned long treys and UND led 50-44.
The Coyotes battled back to tie the game at 56-all on a hard-drive by Little. Hall started the rally with a 3-pointer from the corner.
The game stood tied eight times and the lead changed 11 times – all in the second half.
Becker scored quickly with a finger roll to tie the game for the final time at 76-all.
With 29.7 seconds to play, the Sioux played for a final shot – with the ball in Emmanuel Little's hands the entire time.
The 6-6 senior got a late start, but his speed got him to the basket in time for the game-winner that may have been the dagger in the Coyotes' season.
Coming into the game, the Coyotes were ranked sixth in the North Central Region. Some help may be needed for the Coyotes to continue playing.
"We'll just sit and wait until Sunday to see if we're in," said USD head coach Dave Boots. "If we are, we'll have to play better than we did during the conference season."
"It's going to be tough sitting and waiting for some other team to let us in," Cain said.
Even though the Sioux came into the game with a 2-10 NCC mark and a pair of 23-point losses to USD, they were able to translate their athletic ability into a win by hanging around.
"We were involved in another close game and we couldn't make a play to win the game or make a shot to win the game," Boots said. "The kids did the best they could; they just missed some shots."
"I think that's where they got us," said Cain. "They just hung around and got some rebounds and they made the shot at the end."
Cain had 16 points, 13 rebounds, and five steals for the Coyotes (22-6) while Hall finished with 17 points. Becker also scored 16 points and Little had 13 points.
Emmanuel Little led the Sioux (14-14) with 17 points while Doyle and Youmans each scored 11 points. Travis Bledsoe added 10 points.