The date and opponent may have changed, but the initial start was the same.
In the Nov. 20 home opener against Mayville State, the University of South Dakota men's basketball team struggled through the first half before cruising to a 32-point victory.
And Saturday afternoon against Dana College, not even a 6-of-8 start to the game was enough to muster momentum. But eventually, the hot shooting of the Division I hosts proved to be too much.
Thanks to a 59-percent effort from the field, the Coyotes routed Dana, an NAIA school, 100-65 at the DakotaDome.
The victory came just four days after USD faced Big East Conference power Marquette last Tuesday, a factor that may have accounted for the early defensive lapses Saturday.
"We had trouble coming out hard for this one," said senior Tyler Cain, who led USD with 18 points, a total that pushed him over 1,000 for his career. "There wasn't much fire right away, but then we kicked it up a notch."
Both teams went back-and-forth in the game's first 13 minutes before Dana tied the game at 27-27 on a Tristan Washington layup at the 7:22 mark. That prompted the Coyotes to call a timeout to, if nothing else, slow the visitors' momentum.
"It was almost like we were just going through the motions out there," USD coach Dave Boots said. "But after that timeout, we got things figured out."
Over the next four minutes, USD went on a 15-2 run to pull ahead 40-29, and the margin hit 46-33 at halftime.
And that's when the drama ended.
USD's cushion – which was at one point as high as 41 points – was aided by a trio of three-pointers by Jake Thomas in a 2:08 span. By the time the freshman from Racine, WI, drained his final trey at the 13:54 mark, the the rout was on.
The lead hit 88-47 on a layup by USD's Roman Gentry, and over the final 7:44, the cushion was never less than 35.
"It's a lot easier to play with a lead," said Thomas, who had 17 points and seven rebounds. "But we need to do that in the first half. We can't be messing around and let teams in it."
Playing with a such a lead in the second half allowed USD to send in the reserves. All 10 players who saw time scored for the Coyotes, who shot 58.5 percent (38-of-65) from the field in the win.
Five players scored in double figures, with Cain (18), Thomas (17), Louie Krogman (16), Mitchell Bouie (14) and Gentry (13). Krogman, the sophomore point guard from White River, also pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds.
"We needed our perimeters to start rebounding a little bit more for us," Boots said. "They needed to be more active, especially against a three-point shooting team. And Louie and Jake both did today, and we were happy with that."
Also in the win, Cain eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier on a layup at the 4:08 mark of the first half, becoming the 39th player in school history to reach the milestone.
"It's nice to be recognized for something like that," said Cain, who also owns USD records in blocked shots (274) and is third in rebounds (795). "I've worked hard on my offense over the last few years."
USD returns to action tomorrow (Sunday) against NAIA Midland Lutheran at 3 p.m. in the DakotaDome.
Tristan Washington 6-9 0-0 13; AJ Gordon 4-6 0-0 10; Taylor Oltjenbruns 4-6 0-0 9; Chris Walker 4-10 1-2 9; PJ Mallette 3-7 0-0 8; Alex McCleary 3-5 0-0 6; Danny Petersen 2-4 0-0 5; Adam Zobel 1-4 0-0 3; Josh Harris 1-5 0-0 2; Matt Poppen 0-3 0-0 0; Jake Brandl 0-8 0-0 0; Blake Maaske 0-4 0-0 0. TOTALS 28-71 1-2 65.
SOUTH DAKOTA (3-3)
Tyler Cain 8-11 2-4 18; Jake Thomas 6-9 0-0 17; Louie Krogman 6-12 2-2 16; Mitchell Bouie 5-5 4-6 14; Roman Gentry 5-10 2-2 13; Steve Smith 3-6 2-2 8; Jordan Boots 2-5 1-2 6; Conrad Krutwig 1-3 1-2 3; Dustin Tetzlaff 1-3 1-2 3; Kendall Cutler 1-1 0-1 2. TOTALS 38-65 15-23 100.
At the Half: USD 46, DC 33. 3-Pointers: USD 9-19 (Thomas 5-7, Krogman 2-5, Gentry 1-3, Boots 1-4), DC 8-25 (Mallette 2-6, Gordon 2-2, Washington 1-1, Zobel 1-4, Oltjenbruns 1-2, Petersen 1-3, Poppen 0-1, Brandl 0-5, Maaske 0-1). Total Rebounds: USD 43 (Krogman 10), DC 31 (Walker 5). Assists: USD 25 (Cutler 5), DC 14 (Maaske 5). Total Fouls: DC 17, USD 9. Fouled Out: None. Attendance: 850.