VERMILLION, S.D. – A pair of career-high performances pushed the South Dakota men’s basketball team to a 90-74 victory over Northern Arizona Monday night inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
South Dakota improves to 2-0 for the third-straight season as Northern Arizona falls to 1-1 on the year.
“It’s great to get a win against Northern Arizona,” head coach Todd Lee said. “They are a tough team, a much different team than they were last year. I thought our guys did a good job and hung in there, especially against their pressure in the second half. We got organized and got some easier baskets against it.”
Junior Triston Simpson, just one game after setting a career-high 23 points, totaled 24 points on 6-of-8 shooting and sank 10-of-12 free throw attempts. Fellow junior Tyler Peterson tallied a career-high 23 points as the Coyotes shot 54.5 percent from the field.
“It is good to see guys that keeping having career highs,” Lee added. “With Triston and Tyler, it seems to be every night. We do have guys assuming different roles than they have in the past and we are asking them to score the ball more.”
However, it was junior Brandon Armstrong that gave the Coyotes a spark in the first half when he tallied 15 of his 22 points. Armstrong, making his first-career start, made five 3-point baskets in the half including two in a row to carry a three-point Coyote lead to nine points with 11:46 on the clock.
The lead would stretch to as many as 12 points when Armstrong hit another trey to make the score 28-16. The Coyotes would enter intermission leading 40-31.
Although the Coyotes would not relinquish their lead, the Lumberjacks cut the lead down to just three points on five occasions. The last time the lead was down to three points, Armstrong answered with his final 3-point basket of the game to push the Coyote lead to 57-51 with 12:23 remaining the contest.
That sparked a quick 8-0 run with a layup from junior Cody Kelley and a trey from Peterson.
Again, the Lumberjacks broke into the lead, this time cutting it to four points before the Coyotes embarked on a 14-5 run to push the lead to 13 points with just over five minutes remaining.
Sophomore Stanley Umude started the run with an old-fashioned three-point play. At the end of the run, Peterson had tallied back-to-back layups for his new career high, topping his previous of 15 points, a mark that he had reached on four occasions.
South Dakota held its largest lead of the game at the conclusion, a layup from Kelley, to bring the final score of 90-74. The layup also pushed Kelley into double digits at 10 points.
The Coyotes sank 10 3-point baskets as part of their 30-of-55 shooting from the field. The strong shooting performance was aided by a dominating performance in the paint, totaling 36 points while holding NAU to 16 in the same area.
South Dakota won the rebounding battle 36-25 and was led by Armstrong with seven, a career-high. Senior Trey Burch-Manning and Peterson each grabbed six rebounds.
Carlos Hines led Northern Arizona with 23 points off the bench while Brooks Debisschop totaled eight rebounds.
The Coyotes now travel to the Bimini Jam in the Bahamas beginning Friday night. South Dakota faces High Point at 5 p.m. (CST). The tournament also has USD facing Air Force and UMBC. Stay tuned to GoYotes.com for complete details throughout the event.