The Coyote men’s basketball team got revenge on North Dakota State Thursday night, topping the Bison 75-65 inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
North Dakota State opened the game on an 9-0 run. The Coyotes took the lead at 12-11, and lost it 30 seconds later. North Dakota State rebuilt their lead to nine at 29-20. USD has been notorious for quick starts, often building leads in the first half of games, but Thursday night was a different story.
The Coyotes were sluggish out of the gates, both offensively and defensively. Junior Brandon Armstrong helped jump start the team with seven early points. USD closed the half out strong, going into the half down four, 33-29.
The last time these two teams met, the Coyotes held an 11-point halftime lead and squandered it in the second half. That was a reminder in the locker room at halftime.
“Coach got on us a little bit at halftime. In the first half we didn’t come out ready to play, but this team is tough and resilient,” Simpson said. “We knew we were going to go on our run in the second half so it was just a matter of keep doing what we’re doing and the tables will turn.”
“The good thing was, we were only down four at the half. Up at North Dakota State we were up 11 at the half and I told the guys at halftime,” USD head coach Todd Lee said. “That we were dominating them in the first half up there and they just grinded it out in the second half, and we’re going to do what they did to us up there.”
North Dakota State built themselves another eight-point lead early in the second half, but the Coyotes cut into it before it reached double figures. After a little back and forth from each side, Simpson drained a 3-pointer followed by an Umude steal and dunk giving USD a 38-37 lead.
Simpson and Umude went on a hot streak after that, combining to shoot 11-of-13 and lead USD to an eight-point lead. With five minutes left, the Coyotes held a 60-52 lead. The Coyotes continued to shoot effectively, holding their lead around eight points most of the way.
Tyson Ward didn’t want to quit fighting for the Bison. Every time USD looked to close the door late in the second half, Ward would hit a big three and keep the Bison alive. He finished with 28 points, a game high.
The problem for the Bison was they couldn’t make a stop defensively and the clock was not on their side. The Coyotes forced NDSU to start fouling, and the Coyotes put things away at the free throw line. Tyler Peterson had a big second half after struggling in the first.
“He took responsibility at halftime for how we were guarding and how he was playing,” Lee said. “He knocked down a three, which he hasn’t done in a while, and he’s going to make his free throws. We ran a couple plays for him and got fouled, made a bucket on a clear out. Very happy for TP (Tyler Peterson), we need him to be really good, and he was in the second half.”
“In the first we came out slow, and I put that on myself,” Peterson said. “Because I went out there and get driven twice to the hole by a guy on his strong hand. We had bad energy that first half and I came into the locker room and said my bad guys, and just getting stops in the second half lead to good offense.”
Simpson scored 13 second-half points to total 20 for the game. Umude and Peterson tallied 13 points apiece and Armstrong 12. The Coyotes improved to 12-16 on the season and 6-9 in conference play.
Saturday’s season finale for both USD and UND has big Summit League Tournament implications. The Coyotes host North Dakota in a game that decides who the six seed is and who gets the seven seed. The winner will play Purdue-Fort Wayne in the first round of the tournament while the loser will play Omaha or South Dakota State.
If South Dakota State wins Saturday at home against Western Illinois, they will get the top seed in the tournament. If SDSU loses and Omaha tops Denver, Omaha will take the top seed. Whoever claims the second seed will play the loser of USD and UND.