MBB: State clinches share of Summit, downs USD

Victoria Berndt, Sports Reporter

In a back and forth contest, South Dakota State came out on top with an 85-80 win over the University of South Dakota in the South Dakota Showdown Series Sunday afternoon at Frost Arena.

“I was really proud of our guys’ effort today,” SDSU head coach Eric Henderson said. “We had a bunch of fight. We weren’t perfect, but we made some big plays down the stretch and I’m really proud we came out on top.”

One thing was notably different about Sunday’s matchup than last month’s 99-84 Coyote win in Vermillion. In that contest, USD (19-11, 9-6 Summit) didn’t have to contend with SDSU’s leading scorer, Douglas Wilson. But Wilson, who missed the previous matchup due to injury, showed how big of a difference-maker he can be for SDSU (22-8, 13-2 Summit) by recording 20 points and seven rebounds Sunday.

“He is a tough matchup,” USD head coach Todd Lee said. “He is probably the best player in the league.” 

Wilson appeared to be battling a lower-body injury throughout much of the afternoon and had to leave the game in the final minutes due to the injury. No update was immediately available. 

But with Wilson being hampered most of the second half, freshman Noah Friedel rose to the occasion, scoring 26 points (21 after halftime) and grabbing six rebounds off the bench.

“I trusted my teammates, game plan and philosophy,” Freidel said. “I just tried to attack wherever I thought I could.”

Not letting the Jacks secure the game until the final minute, the Coyotes combatted a rowdy, mostly blue crowd of more the 4,500 for much of the afternoon.

“I thought our guys battled through a lot today,” Lee said. “We had a chance to win a game but didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”

Even though the final score was close, Lee said that this was not his team’s best performance. For being the second in the country for free throws made, they haven’t been showing that.

“We are not doing a good job getting to the free-throw line and not doing a good job of making them,” Lee said. “… Our guys aren’t being very aggressive; we are settling for jump shots.”

The Coyotes’ standout frontcourt players, Tyler Hagedorn and Stanley Umude, only shot a combined 33% and scored 27 points, and have not played up to Lee’s expectations as of late.

“Hagedorn and Umude need to play better. … You aren’t going to win a game when your two best players are shooting 15 for 51,” Lee said.

Hagedorn had 12 points and 12 rebounds while Umude had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists.

“… As of lately, we’ve been a little cold, myself included, shooting wise and offensive scoring-wise, that’s why we really need to start locking in defensively,” Hagedorn said.

With the win, SDSU clinched at least a share of the conference title for the third straight season, but a trip to Fargo to face North Dakota State in the Jacks’ regular season finale will likely decide the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. SDSU can clinch the title outright with a win.