DENVER, Colo. – Cody Kelley scored the game-winning layup with seven seconds remaining to give the South Dakota men's basketball team a 71-70 victory over Denver Wednesday night in Magness Arena.
The Coyotes, trailing by one, didn't use a timeout on their final possession as Triston Simpson found Kelly behind the 3-point line on the right wing. Kelley used a pump fake to get his defender in the air and drove the lane to score the game-winning basket and give South Dakota its first win in the Summit League.
South Dakota (6-7, 1-1 Summit) held a nine-point advantage at intermission but saw Denver open the second half on a 9-0 run to knot the game at 42. Brandon Armstrong swung the momentum back into the Coyotes favor moments later with five-straight points. He first sank a 3-point basket then followed with a jumper in the paint.
Denver (5-12, 0-3 Summit) then went on a 13-3 run to open a 55-50 advantage at the midway point of the half. Just as the momentum appeared to be going in the Pioneers favor, the Coyotes had a five-point possession to knot the game at 55 and begin a race to the finish.
Senior Trey Burch-Manning was fouled while scoring on a layup. Sophomore Stanley Umude grabbed the rebound on the ensuing free throw and kicked it out to Armstrong for his second 3-point basket of the game and the tie score. A pair of Triston Simpson free throws on the next USD possession gave the Yotes a 57-55 lead with 9:20 showing on the clock.
Tied at 69 with 23 seconds remaining, Ronnie Harrell Jr. converted one-of-two free throws to give Denver the one-point advantage setting up Kelley's heroics.
Simpson, who tallied a game-high 20 points, brought the ball up the floor and accepted a ball screen from Matt Johns with 11 seconds on the clock. After not seeing a clearing into the lane, Simpson kicked to Kelley on the right wing where his shot fake got Joe Rosga off the ground, opening the lane for his layup.
Harrell Jr. took the final shot attempt for Denver with the clock expiring, but saw it fall short with the Coyotes securing the 71-70 victory.
Simpson totaled his 20 points thanks to four 3-point baskets as the Coyotes sank a season-best 12 shots from long range. Burch-Manning tallied 18 points and Umude 13 points for the Coyotes, who shot 46.3 percent from the field on 25-of-54 shot attempts. Burch-Manning and Kelley each grabbed five rebounds with Kelley dishing four assists.
Rosga, who orchestrated the Pioneers second-half rally, led Denver with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Harrell Jr., DU's leading scorer, was held to seven points on 1-of-10 shooting.
The Coyotes look to carry the momentum into Sunday's contest with South Dakota State. Tip-off from the Sanford Coyote Sports Center is slated for 3:30 p.m. The South Dakota Showdown Series presented by South Dakota Corn is a doubleheader for the first time in the Division I era with the women's game set to tip at 1 p.m.