Sioux Falls, S.D.— Though No. 7 Omaha put up a fight in the second half of the game, the Coyotes pushed through and beat Omaha 87-73 at the Summit League Tournament in the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center Saturday night.
The Coyotes, who are the No. 2 seed in the Conference, advance to the semifinals set for Monday against either Oral Roberts or Denver.
The first half of the game saw the Coyotes leading and defending well against the Mavericks. The second half saw a push and pull between the two teams, with Omaha fighting back on the defensive end.
Lead scorer for the Coyotes was junior Matt Mooney with 20, followed by senior Nick Fuller with 17 and junior Trey Burch-Manning with 14.
Senior Carlton Hurst came into the game for the first time in eight weeks since injuring his hand.
Mooney said Hurst’s addition was “missed.”
“We have really missed Carlton, he does the intangibles,” he said. “He’s a great player and, most importantly, he’s a phenomenal teammate.”
Burch-Manning said the team relied on their defense this game to get back on track after Omaha’s turnaround in the second half.
“They’re a very talented team, they like to get downhill,” Burch-Manning said. “They didn’t want to leave without putting up a fight. They took advantage of some of our errors.”
Mooney said getting off to a great start was imperative to the team coming into the tournament.
“Last year, against Western (Illinois), we didn’t get off to a good start, we let them hang around, and it was a tight game and we know Omaha’s a talented team and, if you let a team like that hang around, they start getting confident,” Mooney said.
Head coach Craig Smith said he was happy with the first half, though the team struggled in the second.
“Depth is a big thing — depth matters,” he said. “(Sunday we’ll) watch film of this game. We’ll be preparing for (Denver or Oral Roberts).”
The Coyotes take on either No. 6 Oral Roberts or No. 3 Denver Monday at 8:30.