DENVER (USD) — A 55 percent shooting effort from Denver combined with a slow start from South Dakota saw the Pioneers pick up an 86-68 win Saturday inside Hamilton Gymnasium.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Denver while South Dakota dropped its fourth-straight contest. The Pioneers improve to 14-16 (5-12 Summit) while the Coyotes fall to 11-17 (6-10 Summit).
The Coyotes struggled to find the bottom of the net for most of the first half. After A.J. Plitzuweit made the first basket of the day on USD’s third attempt, the Coyotes did not make another field goal until 6:29 left in the half. By then, Denver had built a 22-point lead. In the first 10 minutes of play, South Dakota went 1-of-14 from the field and 0-of-6 from the three-point line. A pair of free-throws from Jeremiah Coleman broke the scoreless drought at 8:49. Denver did not let off the gas as they took a 28-point lead into the break after limiting South Dakota to 12 points in the first half. USD shot 13 percent from the floor in the first half.
The second half was much better for the Coyote offense. After scoring their lowest points in a half this season, the Coyotes scored 56 points in the second half which is the most points they’ve scored in a half this season. South Dakota shot 48.8 percent from the floor and 42 percent from the three in the second half. The Coyotes also outscored the Pioneers by 10 in the second 20 minutes of play. Still, the slow start in the first half was too much to overcome as Denver won by 18 points in the final road game of the season for South Dakota.
Mason Archambault led the Coyotes with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He also made two three-pointers and sank all four of his three-point attempts. Paul Bruns had 14 points off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting while Plitzuweit rounded out the double-digit efforts with 12 points. Kruz Perrott-Hunt and Damani Hayes had eight points each. Perrott-Hunt dished out a team-high four assists while Hayes hauled in a team-high nine rebounds.
Denver’s 86 points were the most they scored in conference play this season. Five Pioneers scored in double-digits led by Touko Tainamo with a game-high 17 points. Marko Lukic had 15 points off the bench going 6-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three. Justin Mullins scored 13 points and recorded six steals on the day. Tevin Smith and Lukas Kisunas had 12 each. Kisunas was a perfect 4-of-4 shooting on the day. DU shot 54.5 percent from the floor and 36.8 percent from three. They also made 19-of-23 from the free-throw line.
The Coyotes close out the regular season next week with two games at home. South Dakota hosts league-leading Oral Roberts on Thursday night before welcoming Kansas City for senior day on Saturday night. Both games tip-off at 7 p.m. from the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.