Act I of the South Dakota-South Dakota State doubleheader in Vermillion on Sunday ended in a thrilling 105-98 victory for the Coyote women. But Act II, featuring the men’s teams, ended much differently, a 79-61 victory for the Jackrabbits.
The Coyotes, fresh off a 71-70 win over Denver Wednesday, couldn’t translate their momentum into Sunday’s game against the in-state rivals. Shooting 32.8 percent, USD fielded only two players who reached double-digit scoring numbers: Stanley Umude with 26 points and Cody Kelley with 11 points.
“We just don’t have an inside presence so a lot of it is perimeter-oriented, and we didn’t shoot the ball very well,” head coach Todd Lee said.
USD, who ranks last in Summit League scoring, shot 32.8 percent from the field against the Jackrabbits, a number that could’ve been lower if a few late-game threes didn’t find their way to the net.
Junior Triston Simpson said the Coyotes weren’t prepared for SDSU’s 2-3 zone defense.
“They threw the zone at us and made us a little stagnant offensively,” Simpson said.
Problems began early for the Coyotes when senior Trey Burch-Manning stepped onto the floor with a walking boot on his right foot before the game. Lee said the forward is suffering from a stress fracture in his foot and hopes it heals “in the next week or two.”
“We didn’t feel like we should play him. Logan Power had a stress fracture in his foot that which we were unaware of and he broke it Christmas night,” Lee said. “It is the toughest year for injuries that I’ve been a part of in my 30 years of coaching basketball. It’s unfortunate for our guys, it’s unfortunate for the program, but we’ve just been bitten.”
With additional absences from seniors Tyler Hagedorn and Power, the Coyote frontcourt was left to sophomore Stanley Umude and freshman Matt Johns, who faced the task of defending Summit League Player of the Year and SDSU all-time leading scorer Mike Daum.
However, of the four Jackrabbits that posted double-digit points, Daum wasn’t included. Instead, senior Skylar Flatten, who scored 20, and redshirt-freshman Alex Arians, who scored 19, took over the game. SDSU head coach T.J. Otzelberger said he was happy to see other players step up on the offensive end.
“That’s what good teams do,” he said. “We need to have a great night when Mike doesn’t score, we need to have a great night when David (Jenkins) doesn’t score well, we need to play well with any adversity or circumstance in the game.”
Misfortunes and close losses have plagued the Coyotes through the first half of the season, and for players, confidence can be fragile and hard to preserve. The same is true for coaches, even those with 30 years of experience, Lee said.
“When you lose a lot of close games you worry about your coaches. I’ve coached thousands of games, and have won at a high percentage at every level I’ve been at. But when you start losing, you’re a human being.”
The Coyotes host Purdue Fort-Wayne, who beat SDSU 104-88 on Thursday, at the SCSC next Sunday at 6 p.m.