How good was Jake Thomas feeling?
So good that by the time his ninth three-pointer of the game rattled in, a wide smile crept across his face as he threw his arms in the air, as if even he couldn't believe his performance.
And neither could the crowd.
Thomas, a freshman guard, set a new school record with nine threes as the University of South Dakota men's basketball team easily handled Midland Lutheran 104-71 on Sunday afternoon in the DakotaDome.
The native of Racine, WI, drained his first four treys in the game's first two minutes and 58 seconds, and already had six in the first half.
He then set the new USD record at the 12:24 mark of the second half, breaking the old mark that had last been set in 2003.
"It was just one of those days, I guess. I really don't know," said a smiling Thomas, who scored 31 points on 9-of-12 from long range in the win for the Coyotes (4-3).
"I've been feeling pretty good lately," he added. "Everyone's been telling me to shoot it, so I listened to them."
Propelled by Thomas' quick start, the Coyotes came out strong in the first half, unlike the performance in Saturday's win over Dana College.
After Thomas hit his fourth three, sophomore point guard Louie Krogman followed with a layup, giving USD a 16-4 lead.
"I knew Jake was hot after those first two, because he can get hot as fast as anybody I've ever seen," said Krogman, who added 18 points on four three-pointers. "It was amazing to watch."
The Warriors, an NAIA school in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC), sliced into the lead, pulling to within 26-21 six minutes later.
And that's when the drama ended.
Within three minutes, the Coyotes had pushed the margin back out to 41-26 on a three-pointer by Thomas.
"When we get him open like we did, he'll have a good chance to make a bunch of shots," USD coach Dave Boots said. "There have been some great shooters in this building, so for him to set that record is pretty impressive."
After leading 51-32 at halftime, the Coyotes began the second half on a 12-4 run to pull ahead 63-36. And for the rest of the game, mostly reserves for USD kept the momentum rolling.
The Coyotes cracked the 100-point barrier at the 3:54 mark on a jumper by freshman Conrad Krutwig, who was one of five USD players in double figures.
Including Saturday's 100-65 win over Dana, USD scored at least 100 points in two straight games for the first time since the 1970-71 season.
"These are hard games to sustain two quality halves, but we did that today," Boots said. "I thought our guys were disciplined out there and didn't let up."
Aside from Thomas' 31 points and Krogman's 18, USD got 15 points from Mitchell Bouie, 13 from Tyler Cain and 10 from Krutwig.
Freshman Dustin Tetzlaff, a native of Watertown, led the Coyotes with 10 rebounds, while Krutwig – a freshman from Algonquin, IL – pulled down nine.
"Those two are feeling their way through," Boots said. "They get to play against Tyler and Steve (Smith) in practice every day, so they should feel pretty comfortable when they get in games."
Midland Lutheran (2-8) got 21 points from Jason Ahrens, as well as 18 points and 10 rebounds from Zach Rosenboom.
MIDLAND LUTHERAN (2-8)
Jason Ahrens 9-19 3-4 21; Chad Langemeier 1-7 0-0 2; Justin Kulwicki 3-9 1-3 8; Zach Rosenboom 9-20 0-0 18; Brandon Mach 3-5 2-3 8; Jordan Moline 0-0 0-0 0; Marc Kilma 0-0 0-0 0; Eric Pieper 0-3 0-0 0; Ben Shanahan 0-1 2-2 2; Alex Knobbe 4-4 2-3 10; Gavin Blum 0-1 2-2 2; Ben Knobbe 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 29-70 12-17 71.
SOUTH DAKOTA (4-3)
Roman Gentry 3-8 0-0 6; Louie Krogman 7-14 0-0 18; Jake Thomas 11-14 0-0 31; Tyler Cain 6-8 1-2 13; Steve Smith 1-6 2-2 4; Mitchell Bouie 5-10 5-5 15; Jordan Boots 1-6 0-0 3; Conrad Krutwig 4-7 2-2 10; Dustin Tetzlaff 2-2 0-2 4. TOTALS 40-75 10-13 104.
At the Half: USD 51, MLC 32. Three-Pointers: USD 14-29 (Thomas 9-12, Krogman 4-9, Boots 1-5, Smith 0-1, Gentry 0-2), MLC 1-14 (Kulwicki 1-6, Pieper 0-1, Blum 0-1, B. Knobbe 0-1, Ahrens 0-2, Langemeier 0-3). Total Rebounds: USD 50 (Tetzlaff 10), MLC 30 (Rosenboom 10). Assists: USD 23 (Cain 6), MLC 10 (Ahrens 5). Total Fouls: MLC 14, USD 12. Fouled Out: None. A: 865.