Coyote men's basketball uses strong defense to hold off North Dakota State
Tasos Kamateros scored 23 points to lead USD, bouncing back from a 50-point loss to Oral Roberts
VERMILLION — The University of South Dakota men's basketball team did not represent themselves well the last time they took the floor.
It wasn't so much that they lost to conference-leading Oral Roberts. But in their 50-point drubbing in Tulsa, the Coyotes "didn't compete," according to coach Eric Peterson.
Thursday night they returned home to the Sanford Coyote Sports Center determined to flush that one from their memory, and they responded with a 71-62 win over North Dakota State.
The Coyotes controlled the action for most of the night, threatening to turn it into a blowout more than once. That never happened, and the Bison finally made a run in the final 90 seconds, getting within five and missing an open 3, then getting within four but failing to follow with a stop.
USD (11-13, 6-6 Summit) was solid defensively throughout, and pretty good on offense in the second half, particularly in the first few minutes coming out of the locker room after a rather uneventful first half.
NDSU shot 39.7 percent for the game, which included a 6-for-21 effort from deep, as well as a 10-of-19 effort at the free throw line. The Yotes were especially good at defending the Bison bigs — they held leading scorer Grant Nelson to 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while Andrew Morgan, who came in averaging 12.8 points in conference play, had just one point on one shot in 14 minutes. Boden Skunberg had 23 points for NDSU, but it wasn't enough.
"I'm really proud of our defensive effort," said USD coach Eric Peterson. "Holding their four and five to 14 total points — they play through those guys all the time. They're two very good players, so really pleased with our defense."
Tasos Kamateros had 23 points and nine rebounds for USD, and the 6-foot-8 forward was efficient in doing it. He was 8-of-11 from the floor and 4-of-5 from outside. Kruz Perrott-Hunt had 15 points and Max Burchill added 11, while also contributing heavily to USD's strong post defense.
"Max did an amazing job," Kamateros said. "He was keeping the crowd up. The whole game he was making plays, taking charges, playing hard on defense. He brought so much energy and really did his job tonight."
The Bison fell to 9-14 with the loss, 6-5 in league play. They'll visit South Dakota State on Saturday. The Coyotes will host North Dakota, after the Hawks were routed by the Jackrabbits on Thursday.
The Coyotes are clearly happy to be home, and if they defend like they did Thursday it should put Monday's ugly loss to ORU further in the rear-view mirror. As Peterson pointed out, USD is two games out of second place, but just three games out of ninth.
"We didn't want to play trying not to lose tonight," Burchill said. "Playing defense is what got us this win."