FORT WAYNE, Ind.—South Dakota fought back from an 18-point, first-half deficit to take a 45-41 lead with 11 minutes to go, then faltered down the stretch in a 75-69 loss to Fort Wayne Thursday at Gates Sports Center. The Coyotes (9-15, 3-6 Summit) have lost their last six Summit League contests after winning their first three.
Fort Wayne (19-8, 7-3) scored 34 points in the final 11 minutes to avenge a 14-point loss to South Dakota in mid-January. The Mastodons remain one game behind North Dakota State in the Summit League standings.
Fort Wayne freshman guard Mo Evans broke a 48-48 tie with back-to-back three-pointers and Luis Jacobo capped a 9-0 run with a dunk and a free throw. Evans scored 17 points and Jacobo added 15 to lead the Mastodons.
USD senior forward Karim Rowson, who scored a career-high 21 points in the first meeting, had a team-high 15 in the second. Trevor Gruis made 7 of 11 shots for 14 points, and had eight rebounds and a career-high seven blocks.
Fort Wayne led 30-12 with five minutes to go in the first half. USD missed 14 of its first 18 shots and committed eight first-half turnovers. The Coyotes worked the lead down to 32-20 at halftime, and then scored 21 points in the first nine minutes of the second half to take the lead.
Gruis and Tyler Flack combined to out-score Fort Wayne 18-6 to start the second stanza on 8 of 8 shooting. Gruis made five buckets. Flack knocked down two triples and added another score. Flack had 10 points and five rebounds.
Outside of big men Gruis, Flack and Rowson, the Coyotes combined to make 9 of 28 shots including a 3 of 13 effort from beyond the arc.
USD point guard Trey Norris scored eight points in the final 35 seconds, but it wasn’t enough. Fort Wayne countered with 11 free throws in the final 90 seconds and was 18 of 23 from the stripe in the second half. The Coyotes (12 of 17) took and made half as many free throws as Fort Wayne (24 of 34).
South Dakota leaves Fort Wayne for Indianapolis and will take on IUPUI at 1 p.m. CST Saturday.
Courtesy: USD Bryan Boettcher