VERMILLION, S.D. (USD) —South Dakota got a game-high 20 points from Xavier Fuller and held off a late Southern rally to defeat the Jaguars 71-68 in the Coyotes’ home opener Friday inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center. USD (2-1) has won 14 of its last 15 home openers dating back to 2007.
Erik Oliver scored 11 points off South Dakota’s bench and Tasos Kamateros added 10. Mason Archambault finished with nine points and seven boards, and made some crucial plays down the stretch.
Archambault defended a Jayden Saddler jumper in the closing minute with the Coyotes leading 67-64. Hunter Goodrick rebounded and Oliver was fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws to make it 68-64. Then, leading 69-66, Archambault was fouled and made two free throws with six seconds left to seal the win.
Saddler led Southern with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting. The Jaguars (1-3) trailed 37-26 at the half and by 13 with 13 minutes to go before clawing back. Saddler hit a jumper with 8:38 left that completed a 15-3 run that closed the gap to one. South Dakota pushed the lead back to seven on a Kamateros bucket with 2:31 to go before holding off a final Southern push.
The Jaguars had one possession down 3 in the closing seconds, but Brendon Brooks was whistled for a moving screen that freed up the ball handler before Southern could get a shot off.
The game was the first of the Nebraska MTE. The Coyotes host Tennessee State in the second game of the event Sunday at 2 p.m. before hosting Presentation Tuesday. The final game of the MTE for South Dakota is at Nebraska next Saturday.
This was the second meeting between the two programs. Southern topped USD 83-79 to begin the 2012-13 season opener in Laramie, Wyoming.
South Dakota made just three triples in the contest, but was 19-of-32 from inside the arc and made 24-of-33 free throws to earn the win. Southern shot 46 percent from the floor and made 7-of-15 3-point attempts, but was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game. J’Quan Ewing, a contributor off the Jaguar bench, committed five fouls and logged just five minutes.