VERMILLION – The South Dakota Coyotes (9-12, 3-5 in Summit) let a 12-point second half lead slip beneath their grasp on Saturday afternoon.
“To have a lead at home, in the second half, you have to close those out,” South Dakota head coach Todd Lee said. “You can’t give those away. This is probably the most disappointing loss of the season for the guys.”
Western Illinois dealt South Dakota a 65-59 defeat, which marked the second loss in three games for the Coyotes.
“If you watched the game, or played in it, that should be enough to pump you up and get you going,” Trey Burch-Manning said. “It’s pretty embarrassing performances from all of us. If you're not ready to go give everything you got, this sport probably isn't for you.”
Both teams traded the lead early. But, a 15-7 run capped by Burch-Manning's (14 points, career-high 4-11 3PA) 11 first half points, gave the Coyotes a five-point advantage heading to the second half.
Burch-Manning is coming off a foot injury, where he missed four games, dating back to January 6th. He felt that the game is still coming to him as the time passes.
“I am still a little rusty offensively,” he said. “Kind of not as locked in fully, as I was, in the early half of the season. I just have to get back into it and focus more.”
The Coyotes came out in the second half with a 9-2 run – and a 12-point lead. That lead continued to shrink throughout the half, though, as South Dakota went ice cold offensively.
“I don’t think were completely locked in the second half, myself included,” Triston Simpson said. “I think we get too comfortable with our leads and you’re not going to win any game going seven-or-eight minutes without scoring the basketball. It’s getting old, we need to start finishing games.”
The drought lasted seven minutes, in which the Coyotes shot 0-10 from-the-field.
“We played well in the second half, got that lead, just couldn’t score,” Lee said. “I thought we got good looks, we just couldn’t knock them down.”
The Leathernecks responded with a 16-0 gut-punch to the Coyotes. However, South Dakota was able to create some momentum late, as a Cody Kelley (nine points, five rebounds, four assists) tied the contest back up at 55-55.
“I could see our guys back off intensity-wise,” Lee said. “It was do or die for them (Western Illinois) at that point. You probably lose some of your confidence and intensity when you can’t make a shot.”
Kobe Webster (13 points, four rebounds) went on a 5-0 run for Western Illinois, which gave the Leathernecks only their second victory over the Coyotes in the last 11 tries.
“At the end of the game, they run 1-4 and (Kobe) Webster gets a layup,” Lee said. “And then, he gets a step-off three. It’s just players making plays. Sometimes, it’s a make or miss deal.”
Lee felt the lack of post players contributed to the shooting-spell in the second half.
“We don’t really have a post player, so that makes it hard,” he said. “You have to make pull-ups, and three’s, and I felt we had wide-open shots and we just couldn’t make any of them.
Leading scorer Stanley Umude (13.7 points per game) was held to just three points in 17 minutes of work.
“Defensively, he (Umude) is still working,” Lee said. “He was in foul trouble a lot. He went back in when we were up eight, or so. He never really got in the flow; teams are starting to deny him and give him different looks.”
The Coyotes have eight games remaining in conference play, and Simpson (17 points, six rebounds) feels the time is now to stimulate some momentum.
“3-5 in conference play in the first half, we are not happy about that,” he said. “We are going to get that laser-focus going for the second half of the Summit League and get some wins.”
The second half provides Lee’s team a chance to get healthy and focus on improving in practice.
“We do have some stretches in the second half, where we have some bye weeks, which we need,” he said. “It seems like every day we are preparing for an opponent. Sometimes you lose your legs or fundamentals.”
South Dakota heads back on the road Wednesday, to face Purdue-Fort Wayne. Tip-off is set for 6pm.
“I was always told, it’s harder to handle success than failure,” Burch-Manning said. “We have success on the road, then come home and lay an egg. If you look at the elite teams, like the (Golden State) Warriors, they have laser-focus. They’re able to string runs together and play well; that’s what we have to do.”
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WESTERN ILLINOIS (8-13)
Ben Pyle 4-8 5-6 15; Brandon Gilbeck 2-5 6-13 10; Kobe Webster 5-14 2-2 13; Isaac Johnson 4-13 0-0 9; CJ Duff 5-9 0-0 11; Zion Young 2-3 2-2 7; Jeremiah Usiosefe 0-0 0-0 0; James Claar 0-0 0-0 0; Jordan Hughes 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22-52 15-23 65.
SOUTH DAKOTA (9-12)
Matt Johns 1-5 0-0 3; Stanley Umude 1-4 1-2 3; Triston Simpson 6-1 1-2 17; Cody Kelley 3-6 0-0 9; Tyler Peterson 4-8 0-0 8; Trey Burch-Manning 5-15 0-0 14; Brandon Armstrong 2-8 1-1 5; Dan Jech 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22-59 6-9 59.
At the half: USD 31-26. Three-Pointers: USD 9-30 (Burch-Manning 4-11, Kelley 3-5, Johns 1-3, Simpson 1-4, Peterson 0-2), WIU 6-16 (Pyle 2-5, Duff 1-2, Young 1-2, Johnson 1-3, Webster 1-4). Rebounds: USD 37 (Peterson 12), WIU 34 (Pyle 10). Assists: USD 11 (Kelley 4), WIU 6 (Webster 3). Steals: WIU 6 (Pyle 3), USD 1 (Kelley). Blocked Shots: WIU 3 (Gilbeck 3), USD 1 (Burch-Manning). Personal Fouls: USD 17, WIU 13. Fouled Out: None. Technical Fouls: None. Turnovers: USD 7, WIU 5. Attendance: 2,702.