Coyote men top Graceland in home opener

By Jeremy Hoeck

University of South Dakota sophomore point guard Trey Norris (1) slices through the Graceland defense for an easy two points. Norris had 11 points and a season-high nine assists Saturday.  (Photo by David Lias)

University of South Dakota sophomore point guard Trey Norris (1) slices through the Graceland defense for an easy two points. Norris had 11 points and a season-high nine assists Saturday.
(Photo by David Lias)

It took about 25 minutes, but eventually order was restored and the USD men’s basketball team was able to out-gun its NAIA opponent.

But talk about surviving a scare.

Holding serve in their home opener, the Coyotes used a 25-2 run in the second half to run past Graceland University 112-85 on Saturday afternoon at the DakotaDome.

The story, early at least, was the way the visiting Yellowjackets were able to keep pace with USD (2-3) and score 53 points in the first half.

“It got shaky there for a while, and I started thinking, ‘Oh man, we have to put these guys away,’” said Coyote point guard Trey Norris, who recorded 11 points and nine assists — with zero turnovers.

“We answered in the second half, so that’s all that mattered.”

And what an answer it was.

In scoring its most points in three years, USD shot 58 percent, made 13 three-pointers, dished out 24 assists and put eight players in double figures.

The trick now is playing a consistent 40 minutes, according to interim head coach Joey James.

“That’s something I continue to remind this young team,” he said. “You can’t just come out and play for 20 minutes.”

With the home team stunned in the first half (or as Norris later said, perhaps over-looking Graceland), the Yellowjackets — who came in averaging 90 points — kept on running and kept on shooting.

Although USD led by as many as 15 points in the first half, Graceland shot 51 percent (thanks to 8-of-15 on three-pointers) to close within 54-53 at halftime.

Just about everything but the score frustrated the Coyotes.

“They were hitting some tough shots, I’ll give them credit for that, but we didn’t do a good job of keeping them out of the lane or contesting those shots,” said junior guard Brandon Bos, who scored 15 points.

Graceland then continued its surge into the second half, leading briefly before battling to a 67-67 tie at the 15:20 mark.

That’s when the Coyotes finally got rolling.

Norris made consecutive baskets, Casey Kasperbauer and Tavian Pomlee drilled consecutive threes and Pomlee converted a layup to close a 15-0 run within under three minutes.

With Graceland struggling through a 24-percent second half, the Coyotes reached 100 points with 5:46 remaining and were able to showcase their depth. All 12 players who saw the court scored in the win.

Pomlee led the way with 16 points, followed by Bos (15), Adam Thoseby (14), Kasperbauer (12), Trevor Gruis (11), Norris (11), Tyler Flack (10) and Eric Robertson (10).

“I’d bottle that up right now and take it every game if I could,” James joked.

“The fact that we had 24 assists shows that we’re an unselfish basketball team. We have guys that can score the ball, not just two or three.”

The Coyotes return to Division I action tonight (Monday) with a 7 p.m. home date with former Great West Conference foe Utah Valley.

Those are the games when USD can really evaluate itself, Bos said.

“We’re getting there,” he said. “Today you could say it was maybe a lapse, but I think we’re doing a good job working toward where we need to be.”


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Francisco 0-5 0-0 0, Emmert 3-6 5-6 12, Martin 3-6 0-0 7,  Danner 6-13 3-3 17, Lawson 5-10 6-7 17, Halls 2-4 4-4 10,  Sathoff 3-8 0-0 7, Lilley 0-3 2-2 2, Claggett 3-7 0-0 7,  Harper 0-1 0-2 0, Miller 1-5 4-4 6. Totals 26-68 24-28 85.

S. DAKOTA (2-3)

Flack 4-7 1-2 10, Gruis 5-6 1-3 11, Norris 5-9 0-0 11,  Bos 5-8 4-5 15, Thoseby 5-11 3-4 14, Kasperbauer 4-8 0-1 12,  Foley 1-2 0-0 3, Rowson 3-4 1-3 7, Pomlee 6-8 1-1 16,  Robertson 3-6 3-4 10, Larson 1-4 1-4 3. Totals 42-73 15-27 112.

Halftime—S. Dakota 54-53. 3-Point Goals—Graceland 9-22 (Halls 2-4,  Danner 2-5, Emmert 1-2, Martin 1-2, Claggett 1-2, Sathoff 1-3, Lawson  1-3, Lilley 0-1), S. Dakota 13-29 (Kasperbauer 4-7, Pomlee 3-4, Foley  1-2, Flack 1-2, Norris 1-3, Thoseby 1-3, Bos 1-3, Robertson 1-3, Larson  0-2). Fouled Out—Martin, Pomlee. Rebounds—Graceland 28 (Lilley, Miller  5), S. Dakota 52 (Thoseby 8). Assists—Graceland 10 (Halls, Martin 3), S.  Dakota 24 (Norris 9). Total Fouls—Graceland 21, S. Dakota 24. A—1,325.

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