Coyotes Fall at Western Illinois, Get Rematch Next Week
Another close game, another Summit League loss for the South Dakota men Saturday on the road at Western Illinois, as the Coyotes fell to the Leathernecks 61-59, USD's sixth conference loss by five points or less this season.
Ceola Clark made six second-half three-pointers and scored 27 points to lead Western Illinois (13-3), who clinched a share of the Summit League regular season title with South Dakota State, but will be the number two seed in the conference tournament by virtue of a tiebreaker.
Trevor Gruis and Juevol Myles had 19 points each to lead the Coyotes, who had a two game road winning streak snapped.
USD made a late rush to trim a nine point deficit to just one with 1:30 left, as Myles hit on five straight baskets. But the Coyotes could get no closer, and finish the season in seventh place.
The Coyotes scored the game's first 11 points and led 15-4 nine minutes into the contest. Western Illinois closed the half on a 19-8 rally and the game was tied at 23-23 at the break.
Clark had four points and was 0 of 3 from three-point range in the first half. He made 6 of 7 to begin the second to put Western in front 46-40 with 7:48 to go. He finished 10 of 15 from the field and had five rebounds, four assists and three steals. It was Clark who hit a runner in the lane to beat South Dakota 73-71 in Vermillion in late November.
Western big man Terell Parks missed his second straight game due to injury and Gruis took advantage inside. He was 6 of 7 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. He drew three fouls in the first half on Parks' backup, Michael Ochereobia, who fouled out late in the second and totaled four points.
Both teams shot 43 percent from the field. Western's nine 3-pointers to South Dakota's six was the difference. USD outrebounded Western 34-27 and outscored the Leathernecks 11-8 at the free-throw line.
Western Illinois and South Dakota play again in the opening round of the Summit League Tournament next Saturday in Sioux Falls. Tipoff is 8:30pm.