UND hands Coyote men heartbreaking loss

UND hands Coyote men heartbreaking loss Two free throws by Travis Mertens with 4.6 seconds left lifted North Dakota past The University of South Dakota men's basketball team, 68-66, in the semifinals of the Spring Thaw Tournament Saturday in Grand Forks, ND. Dylan Grimsley (Sr., Sioux City, IA) led USD with 20 points. Roman Gentry (Jr., Sioux City, IA) had 17 points and four assists, while Tyler Cain (Jr., Rochester, MN) had 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Louie Krogman (Fr., White River) added 10 points. It was the second straight heartbreaking loss for USD, which lost by two points to Seattle a week earlier. USD fought hard in the contest despite battling foul trouble and shooting struggles from three-point range (30.6 percent). After Mertens hit the two free throws for North Dakota, USD had a chance to win in the final seconds but a three-pointer by Jesse Becker (Sr., Plymouth, MN) wouldn't fall. After leading by 10 points early, USD was up 21-15 before going on a 10-3 run to stretch the lead to 31-18 with 5:39 left in the first half. Cain had four points during that stretch, while Krogman and Gentry each drained threes. The Coyotes hit a cold spell from the field before the half and North Dakota took advantage, cutting the USD lead to 33-28 at halftime. Grimsley, who was in foul trouble in the first half, paced USD in the opening frame with 11 points, while Gentry added 10. Cain had six points and six rebounds. Becker had five assists and four rebounds in the first half. Both teams struggled shooting the ball in the first half, as USD shot 35.6 percent (11-of-31) while UND hit 31.9 percent (9-of-29) of its field goals. Pat Mitchell kept UND in the game with 13 first-half points. USD started the second half quickly and pushed the lead back to 44-34 with 15:49 left in the contest when Krogman hit a three-pointer. North Dakota fought back, however, to take a 55-53 lead with 6:25 left after two Darius Joseph free throws. USD was down three in the final minute but tied the game at 66-66 with 25 seconds after Gentry hit a three-pointer. Seconds later, Mertens followed with the two free throws to put UND up by two. Becker had a season-high eight assists and six rebounds for USD. Becker, Krogman and Mitch Begeman (Sr., Sioux Falls) each had two steals. Notes: USD finished 2-1 against North Dakota this season. USD won the matchup at the DakotaDome and the two teams split the two meetings held in Grand Forks … Cain is just one rebound away from sixth-place all-time in career rebounds. Cain has 752 … Grimsley is now just 13 points away from 1,300 for his career.

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