The Bison men’s basketball team lost to University of South Dakota on Saturday afternoon by a final score of 76-66. The defeat was the Herd’s second in a row, coming on the heels of an overtime loss on Wednesday to IUPUI. Coyotes’ guard Matt Mooney led all scorers with 26 points, pacing USD.
Initially, the game was a close contest, with even scoring from both sides. However, the Bison were not sharp, and it wasn’t long before South Dakota began to take over the game. NDSU was not able to work the ball into the interior, as USD’s defense made it difficult on the Bison.
“They were doing a good job getting in their gaps with their guards, and soft playing the wings, which was preventing those passes from going in (the paint),” Dexter Werner remarked after the game.
Defensively, the Bison were able to hold their own, but with nothing materializing on offense, it wouldn’t be long for the floodgates to open for the Coyotes. The Bison went scoreless for eight minutes and 16 seconds. During this time, USD went on an 18-0 run, taking a 32-19 lead. Mooney drained a blasé three pointer before time expired in the first half, and the Coyotes’ yipped and howled into the locker room with a 15 point lead. NDSU shot just 31 percent from the field in the first half.
“You can’t spot a good team a 15 point lead like that, no matter where you’re playing, no matter who you’re playing, and expect to win,” head coach Dave Richman commented afterwards. “When we get impatient and try to make hero plays, we’re not going to be any good.”
The second half began much more favorably for the Bison, who came out firing right away. To dig themselves out of the hole, the Bison played to one of their best offensive strengths, the shooting game. Within two minutes from the start of the second frame, NDSU had cut the Coyotes’ lead to single digits. Carlin Dupree threw down a breakaway dunk, the crowd regained their voice, and the Bison held all the momentum. Werner hit a pair of reverse layups, and Tyson Ward scored one of his own. The duo earned three consecutive trips to the free throw line following their baskets, narrowing the deficit to just six points.
Just as it began to look as if the Bison were going to stage yet another second half comeback, the Coyotes responded. USD went back to their strategy from the first half, shutting NDSU out of the paint, and quickly the Bison’s scoring fizzled out.
“Credit to them, they answered every run we had with a big bucket of their own,” Paul Miller said following the loss.
The visitors restored their large lead, silencing the Herd and the home crowd. Coach Richman began to grow irate on the sidelines, becoming animated by both the officiating and his team’s poor play. NDSU’s offense languished, forcing shots and having to settle for low percentage looks late in the shot clock.
Miller led the Bison with 21 points. Werner and freshman Jared Samuelson scored 12 and nine points respectively off the bench. The loss drops the Bison to 7-3 in the conference, yet they remain in first place and hold a half game lead in the standings.
The Bison will return to action on Wednesday, playing host to rivals South Dakota State at 8 p.m. at the Scheels Center. The Jackrabbits are headlined by Summit League Player of the Year candidate Mike Daum, who leads the conference in scoring, averaging 23.8 points per game. The Bison knocked off the Jacks earlier this year in Brookings, by a score of 80-69.