The Coyotes (8-3) fought off Alabama State (1-7) to secure their second consecutive home victory 73-59 inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center on Monday.
“It was a tough, physical game,” head coach Todd Lee said. “Alabama State, I knew they’d come in and play us hard. They’ve played a tough schedule obviously. Their record does not indicate the kind of team they are.”
The Hornets out gained USD on the offensive boards, grabbing 13 to the Coyote’s seven. However, the Coyote defense stayed strong, holding Alabama State to a shooting percentage of 35 for the contest, including just 25 percent in the first half.
“I think during the first media timeout I looked up and they had five [offensive rebounds],” senior forward Tyler Hagedorn said. “So, they had five of their 13 right off the bat and they set the tone right off the bat that they were going to be crashing the glass. I think that’s definitely a strength of their team and maybe even a weakness of ours.”
After giving up an early lead, the Hornets were able to claw back after employing a full-court press in defense, forcing inexperienced ball handlers for USD into some tough situations. Senior guard Brandon Armstrong, junior guard Ty Chisom, and true freshman guard Kruz Perrott-Hunt all split time at point guard in the absence of senior guard Triston Simpson, only turning the ball over 13 times in the face of Alabama State’s pressure.
“That’s a team that’s athletic,” Lee said. “We only turned the ball over 13 times, and when we did beat the press we converted. That’s big. That was a point of interest for us to not turn the ball over. And against the press I think we did a pretty good job.”
Junior guard Stanley Umude led all Coyote scorers with 21 points to go with six rebounds and five assists in his 32 minutes of action. Hagedorn added 18 points in his 21 minutes. At times on the court, Hagedorn’s foot appeared to cause him trouble. He said after the game that the upcoming schedule will be lighter and extremely helpful to the recovery of the team.
“I’ll be honest, it hurts. My foot, I’m having issues with it again. But we’ve got a couple of days off, I think we have three games in the next 14 days. So, I think that’s going to be really good for me and Triston and different guys to recover from the bumps and bruises and stuff.”
The Coyotes return to action in the SCSC on Saturday as they host Mayville State at 3:30 p.m.