Coyotes Hang On Late, Beat Omaha In Vermillion 87-86
One constant problem nagging South Dakota through this Summit League season has been an inability to close out close games; four of USD's six conference defeats came by six points or less.
Thursday night in Vermillion, the Coyotes finally got on to go their way, with a 87-86 win over Omaha.
Early on, the Coyotes got a reminder about just how quick this Omaha team was, as the Mavericks took every opportunity - even a made USD basket - to push the ball upcourt and score.
CJ Carter helped key an early UNO 6-0 run as he scored 11 of the Mavs first 13 points and Omaha was up four.
The Coyotes answer to the Mavs speed was red hot shooting in the first half. USD shot a blistering 69 percent in the first eight minutes to lead by as many as ten.
Omaha wrestled the momentum back heading into halftime, going on a 16-7 run to pull to within three, 38-35 USD at the break.
Tyler Flack leading the Coyote 57 percent shooting attack with 11 points in the first 20 minutes. Carter and Mike Rostampour each had 11 for the Mavericks, who shot 41 percent in the first half.
In the second half, USD senior Trevor Gruis, already battling the flu, now had a new concern, foul trouble, as he headed to the bench less than three minutes in.
Without him on the floor, Omaha took advantage, reeling off a 15-8 run to grab a four point advantage, but almost as quickly the Coyotes ran off ten straight as the lead went back and forth with USD up four.
Justin Simmons, who did not play in the first half, made his presence known in the second with back-to-back steals and slam dunks to keep Omaha within one with 9:30 to play.
But it was the Coyote reserves providing a big spark as Casey Kasperbauer, Adam Thoesby, and Brandon Bos combined for 42 of USD's 49 bench points, and the lead was extended back to 79-71 with three minutes left.
But the highest scoring team in the Summit League wasn't about to go away quietly.
In the final 32 seconds, Caleb Steffensmeier nailed back-to-back 3-pointers and just like that, the game was tied at 86 with 19 seconds left.
After a timeout, USD got the with a chance to win it with a field goal, but they never got the chance as Marcus Tyus bumped into Trey Norris with 1.5 seconds left, sending Norris to the free throw line where he proceeded to hit one-of-two.
The Coyotes then watched as a desperation heave from Simmons missed at the buzzer and USD claimed the one-point win.
Tyelr Flack led South Dakota in scoring with a career high 21 points, Thoesby added 16, Kasperbauer 14, Bos 12.
Carter had 19 points for Omaha, Rostampour had a double-double: 18 points and 11 rebounds.
USD shot 54 percent and had nine 3-pointers, holding UNO to 42 percent shooting.
The win was the fifth conference victory for the Coyotes this season, with three to play. USD only won five times in Summit League play all of last season.
South Dakota (11-15/5-6) hosts Western Illinois Saturday at 4:00pm.