VERMILLION, SD There would be no comeback this time. South Dakota’s defense wouldn’t allow it.
The Coyotes took a 48-29 lead into halftime and never let it get close in earning an 83-60 win against Purdue Fort Wayne Thursday inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
South Dakota placed all five starters in double figures for the second straight game and for the fifth time this season in improving to 13-8 overall and 4-3 inside the Summit. They trail four teams with two losses in the conference standings as we approach the halfway point. Cody Kelley led the Coyotes with a season-high 18 points.
Purdue Fort Wayne (9-12, 2-4) has lost three in a row and four of five since topping South Dakota 70-59 back on New Year’s Day. The Mastodons trailed 35-23 at halftime of that one, but made eight 3-pointers in the second half in storming back for the victory. Jarred Godfrey and Brian Patrick, who combined for 43 points in the first meeting, totaled 20 in Thursday’s rematch on 7-of-19 shooting from the field.
The Mastodons came in averaging 26 three-point attempts per game, but managed six makes on 15 attempts in this one. Deonte Billups, a freshman who equaled his season high with 19 points, was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, but his teammates were a combined 2-of-9. Purdue Fort Wayne shot just 35 percent from the field overall, their fourth-worst shooting night of the season.
“We defended well,” said South Dakota head coach Todd Lee. “Last time we played them, we defended for a half. This time, we defended for the whole game, and held them to 35 percent shooting.”
“I thought we guarded the ball and took away strong hands. Their strong-hand drivers, very quick going that way, they also like to shoot a lot of three’s and we only gave up 15 three’s attempted, and we got out on the three-point line and did a good job of making them bounce it.”
South Dakota shot right at its season average from beyond the arc, making 9-of-22 for 41 percent, and shot 50 percent overall (28-of-56). Triston Simpson continued his strong play with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting while leading all players with five assists. Tyler Hagedorn had 15 points and six rebounds, Stanley Umude had 12 points and three blocks, and Tyler Peterson had 10 points, six boards and four assists.
Kelley made two 3-pointers and scored eight points in helping South Dakota take a 14-4 lead five minutes into the game. It was 29-12 on two free throws from Peterson with nine minutes left in the first half. Hagedorn’s second triple made it 46-25 shortly before halftime.
Simpson and Kelley scored 11 points each in the opening stanza and the Coyotes buried seven 3-pointers.
A balanced Coyote offense in the second half kept the Mastodons at bay and the lead never drew less than 17 points. South Dakota got four points each off its bench from Ty Chisom, Hunter Goodrick and Brandon Armstrong.
All four of South Dakota’s Summit League wins have come at home and the Coyotes improved to 9-1 on its home court overall. The home stand concludes Saturday against Oral Roberts (11-8, 4-2) at 3:30 p.m. The Golden Eagles enter with a four-game win streak.