The loudest cheer of the second half was a standing ovation for the South Dakota State women’s basketball team as it left the PREMIER Center. The game being played was already over with eight minutes remaining.
SDSU’s men’s basketball team never trailed on its way to a 78-65 victory over the University of South Dakota Monday night.
USD was engulfed in a sea of blue from the opening tip-off. The team shot 37 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from three. The Coyotes’ counterparts went 8-13 from three-point range in the first half.
“It felt like there was a lid on the basket there for a stretch,” USD head coach Craig Smith said. “You’ve got to eliminate losing before you can win. To eliminate losing, you’ve got to make your free throws. You can’t turn it over.”
USD senior guard Brandon Bos was stripped of possession in the first half, leading to an SDSU fast-break basket. As the Jackrabbit crowd climbed to its feet, first-year Reed Tellinghuisen drew a charge to blow the roof off the building.
SDSU won both sides of the basketball court all night.
“It felt like a State-USD game to me,” SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said. “It felt mostly like a home court advantage to us.”
For seniors Bos, guard Tyler Larson and center James Hunter, it was the last opportunity to compete for a conference championship. Bos ended with 12 points and Larson with 19.
They were overmatched by SDSU’s junior guards Deondre Parks and George Marshall, who ended with 21 and 14, respectively.
“I wish I had more time,” Bos said. “The guys next year have a great shot of going all the way. (Coach Smith) doesn’t hear this from us a lot, but we’re just so thankful for him and everything he does for us. He is a fantastic coach.”
Despite the loss and disappointment of going 1-2 against its biggest rivals, Smith’s first Summit League Tournament appearance could be labeled a success, he said.
He came in with expectations to win the tournament, but his team at least won its first Summit League post-season game since moving to Division I.
“It ended earlier than we wanted it to,” Smith said. “A lot of things didn’t quite go right tonight. But at the end of the day, changing the culture in our program and changing some things expectation-wise, I think this is the first time in four years that we’ve ever been 500.”
The Coyotes will await their post-season fate. They will know in a week’s time if they were accepted to play in a post-season tournament. Meanwhile, their rivals have the taste of the Big Dance on their tongues.
The Jackrabbits will look toward 8 p.m. Tuesday night, where they play the winner of the second Summit Tournament semifinal between North Dakota State and Oral Roberts.
The winner of the championship qualifies for the NCAA national basketball tournament.
(Photo: Senior Tyler Larson looks for the pass under the basket in the second half of the Coyotes 78-65 loss to South Dakota State in the second round of the 2015 Summit League Championships at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls. Austin Ashlock / The Volante)
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