In a battle between two of the Summit League’s best, the Coyotes (19-10, 9-5 CONF) fell short to North Dakota State University (20-7, 11-2 CONF) on Wednesday in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
NDSU and USD came into the game ranked second and third respectively in the Summit League standings, both trailing South Dakota State.
It was a close game all the way to the final buzzer, with the biggest lead coming five minutes into the second half as the Bison went up by 11 points.
Two minutes later, senior guard, Cody Kelley kicked off an 11-point scoring run with back-to-back three-pointers and a layup before junior guard Stanley Umude converted an and-one opportunity to give the Coyotes a 49-48 lead. However, this would be the last time USD held a lead in the contest.
“I think we settled in in the second half and Cody (Kelley) knocked down back-to-back threes that were big,” senior guard Triston Simpson said. “We just weren’t able to hold on to that. I think we hurt ourselves a little bit on the defensive end. If we didn’t get a bucket, they would come down and score. We felt like we were in the game all the way until the end; we just didn’t get enough stops.”
Senior guard Vinnie Shahid led the offensive charge for the Bison, dropping a game-high 27 points along with four assists. Senior guard Tyson Ward provided 14 points and seven boards as well. Head coach Todd Lee said he praised Shahid and Ward after the game.
“They’re a very good team, they have the best point guard in the league in Vinnie Shahid, so you don’t want to be playing them from behind,” Lee said. “We were pretty good defensively, aside from guarding Shahid I thought. Ward’s going to get what he gets, tonight he had 14 points. I think Ward and Shahid are both first-team all-league guys and Shahid may be MVP of the league.”
Senior guard Tyler Peterson scored 18 points on 9-12 shooting to lead all Coyotes on the night, along with six rebounds. Umude finished with seven assists but shot 3-11 from the field for nine points and committed four turnovers. Senior forward Tyler Hagedorn also committed four turnovers on the night but was able to score 13 points.
“I know (Hagedorn) and (Umude) are disappointed in how they played,” Lee said. “You need your best players to step up and play in big games and unfortunately they didn’t play well.”
With two regular season games remaining before the Summit League Tournament kicks off, Lee said the team needs to focus on playing tough and making the right adjustments.
“We’re pounding it into the guys’ heads that this is how teams are going to play. So now, it’s a matter of toughness and making adjustments,” Lee said. “So, we’ll see what happens on Sunday when we go up (to Brookings).”
The Coyotes will play their final road game of the regular season in Brookings as they take on the league-leading Jackrabbits on Sunday, Feb. 23.