Sunday Night’s Summit League Recap: Coyotes Stumble, Jacks Rout Western Illinois
The Arena felt like home for South Dakota's area teams on Sunday.
Two of the three teams advanced to Monday's semifinals, while the South Dakota State women had a bye into today's action.
In the first game of the night, the Coyote men were hoping a little home cooking would help lead them to victory over Denver, but bad possessions doomed them, as they fell 71 to 55.
Denver captured their first Summit League tournament win in their first appearance. It was also the second time in seven years that a four seed has beat a five seed.
Going into the second half, USD was down six, 36 to 32, but everytime the Coyotes inched closer, the Pioneers had an answer. With 11:40, USD cut the lead to five, but Denver didn't let up. Soon, senior Trevor Gruis picked up his fourth foul with 7:45, but stayed in the game.
As time ticked away for the Coyotes, the Pioneers built a 58 to 47 lead by hitting a big three. With 3:44 to go, USD's Karim Rowson stole the ball away and went coast-to-coast for a jam to trail 60 to 50. While the Coyotes were hoping for a momentum swing, Denver answered again with another deep three. The Pioneers extended their lead with two to play 65 to 50, and shortly after, Gruis fouled out. The Ellworth, Minnesota native received a big ovation, and said in the post game he is thankful for his time at USD.
"We would have liked to extend our season, it was tough and emotional, and we left it all on the court."
Gruis scored 12 points in his final game for USD, while Brandon Bos led USD in scoring with 13 points.
Leading the way for Denver was Brett Olson, whose dad played at USD. Olson played all 40 minutes, scoring 20 points and dishing out five assists. The junior guard was the Coyotes kryptonite all season; in three games against USD, he had 22, 30, and 20 points.
Chris Udofia was limited to one point and two rebounds. While Udofia was held in check, the Pioneers used their quickness down low, and aggressiveness on defense against the Coyotes offense.
Denver faces North Dakota State at 6 p.m. on Monday night.
The Jackrabbits men faced the Leathernecks of Western Illinois in the second game of Sunday's night session.
A lot of blue filled the stands, as the two teams collided. The pace was fast early, and Western Illinois started off strong, leading 11 to 5 at the 14:27 mark. But late in the first, with the help of the "home" crowd, the Jackrabbits hurried the Western Illinois offense, and created turnovers. At half, SDSU led 26 to 23. Marcus Heemstra had three big field goals late in the first that helped give the Jackrabbits momentum for the second half.
After halftime, SDSU scored five consecutive points, and had a 10-0 run later, creating a 20 point lead by the 10:24 mark.
SDSU defeated Western Illinois, 71 to 50. The Jackrabbits were led by Brayden Carlson with 13 points. Garret Covington led the Leathernecks in scoring with 14 points.
SDSU plays at 8:30 on Monday night against IUPUI.
Monday night also broke a Summit League attendance record, drawing 6, 647 fans.