A fast start by Oakland University proved to be the difference as it posted a 101-83 victory over the University of South Dakota in the Coyotes' Summit League debut. With the loss, the Coyotes fell to 2-4 on the year and 0-1 in league play, while Oakland improved to 5-2 and 1-0 in conference play.
The Coyotes were led by three players in double figures as senior Louie Krogman (White River) posted as season-high 26 points on 9 of 17 from the field and 3 of 10 from beyond the arc to go along with a perfect 5 for 5 from the line. Sophomore Trevor Gruis (Ellsworth, MN) had a season-high 20 points on 7 of 10 from the field and 6 of 7 from the line with a team-high eight rebounds, while senior Charlie Westbrook (Milwaukee, WI) chipped in 19 points.
Oakland was led by 28 points from Travis Bader who was 10 of 16 from the field, including 8 of 13 from beyond the arc. He led four players in double figures as Drew Valentine narrowly missed a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Reggie Hamilton added 16 points and the conference's leading rebounder, Corey Petros, had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
From the opening tip, the Grizzles caught fire as Bader hit three quick triples to put OU up 11-2 early as it started 4 of 5 from the field. Bader added his fourth triple for an 18-4 lead less than four minutes into the game.
"That kid can really shoot, he has done that to a lot of people, he has great size and it's hard to get up and contest him and we really couldn't stop their physical ability early," head coach Dave Boots said. "I do like how some of our kids competed tonight, we were a bit short-handed without Ricardo (Andreotti) who is our best defender and rebounder and Steve (Tecker) broke his nose in the game."
Krogman knocked down two charity tosses cutting the deficit to 22-10 with 13 minutes remaining in the half. After the Coyotes hit their first bucket of the game, they went cold going just 1 for their next 12, while Oakland started 10 of 17, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.
The Coyotes settled down and a nice dish by Krogman to an open Westbrook in transition brought the Coyotes within 31-13 with 8:34 remaining in the half. Krogman followed with his first triple in eight tries off an offensive rebound by Gruis as the Coyotes cut the deficit to 18 at 36-18 moments later.
Another triple and jumper by Krogman and Westbrook, respectively, brought the Coyotes within 38-23 with four minutes remaining in the half. An and-one and a triple by junior Jordan Boots (Vermillion) brought the Coyotes within 14 at 51-37 with 31.4 seconds remaining in the half as the Coyotes used a 12-6 run over the final three minutes of the half. Oakland led 54-37 at intermission.
For the half, the Coyotes were led by 12 points apiece from Gruis and Krogman. South Dakota was 13 of 28 from the field for 46.4 percent. They were 4 of 11 from beyond the arc, which was the most makes since sinking eight triples against Nebraska-Omaha Nov. 20. The Coyotes were 7 of 8 from the line and had 15 rebounds, but just two on the offensive end.
From the 8:34 mark and down 31-13, the Coyotes closed the half scoring 24 points as they began to catch fire and played even with OU as it scored 23 points during that span.
Conversely, Oakland was led by the fast start of Bader who led the team with 14 points, while Hamilton added 12 points. The Grizzlies shot an even 50 percent from the field on 17 of 34. They were 6 of 14 from range and 14 of 18 from the line which was a major discrepancy in the first half. OU had 20 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.
Back-to-back layups by Westbrook cut the deficit to 13 at 58-45 early in the second half which was the closest the Coyotes would get.
Through the first eight minutes of the second half, the Coyotes made 10 of 16 field goals, but were just 1 of 6 from beyond the arc during that span, while Oakland was just as hot shooting 10 of 18 and was 2 of 4 from deep and 3 of 4 from the line as it held a 79-58 lead with 11:25 left. To that point, the Coyotes hadn't attempted a free throw in the second half.
Over the next three minutes, the Grizzlies swelled the lead to 86-61 courtesy of another big triple from Bader, his seventh of the game. From there, the Coyotes kept fighting and continued to chip away at the deficit and two charity tosses by Gruis brought the Coyotes within 97-81 with 1:45 left as OU settled for a 101-83 win.
The Coyotes shot 46.9 percent from the field for the game on a season-best 30 of 64 from the field. They were 6 of 26 from beyond the arc and were 17 of 21 from the line. They had 32 rebounds, but had just six on the offensive end as Oakland tallied 45 rebounds and 15 on the offensive end leading to a 16-2 advantage for the Grizzlies in second chance points.
Oakland shot equally impressively as it was 35 of 72 from the floor and 10 of 25 from beyond the arc, including Bader's 8 for 13 shooting performance from range and the Grizzlies were 21 of 28 from the line, which also was a major difference in the game.
The Coyotes look to rebound Saturday as the travel to IPFW for a 6:30 p.m. tip CT. The voice of the Coyotes, Warren Swain, will have the call on the home and away voice of South Dakota basketball on B102.7FM.
"I thought it was good to start with these guys every game is tough and it's a good league," Boots added. "Everybody is going to have their share of bad plays, but we consistently made them through the whole game. We are making too many mistakes on decision making, but as the season goes on maybe we can correct some of that. There's a lot of work to do."