VERMILLION — The University of South Dakota Coyote men’s basketball team had to weather an efficient first half from the Bellarmine Knights, but came away with a 78-64 win Wednesday night, Dec. 15, inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center in Vermillion.

“I felt that things could have been 10 or 11 at the half, but we did a good job weathering the storm and we had a lot of our bench in and it went from eight to three,” USD head coach Todd Lee said.

Both teams shot over 50% from the field in the first half as Bellarmine built a three-point 38-35 halftime lead. The lead was at seven before the Coyotes ended the half on a 4-0 run to make it a three point game.

“I went into the halftime and was pretty half about the fact, look, it’s a one possession game,” Lee said. “We’re going to make these adjustments defensively, we’ve got to guard better, we can’t give up 54% again or we’re going to lose. Our guys did a great job.”

The Coyotes hung in with the Knights, taking blow after blow from the Bellarmine offense, but hanging around for the first six minutes of the second half. A fourth foul on a charge called against Mason Archambault sent him to the bench with 14:33 to play.

The Coyotes tied the game at 46 with 12:30 to play, making it even for the first time since a 12-12 tie six minutes into the game. USD held a brief lead following the tie at 12 before Bellarmine pulled away in the first half.

USD used a 6-0 run to tie the game at 46, but it took over five minutes to go on the run. Dylan Penn ended the nearly six minute scoring drought for Bellarmine with a three-pointer to give the Knights a 49-46 lead.

Bellarmine built a five point lead, but Kruz Perrott-Hunt scored four straight points, including a pair of free throws off a technical foul called on the Knights due to confusion on the number of fouls Perrott-Hunt had, and the Coyotes hung around.

USD gain its first lead since the 14-12 lead with a pair of Xavier Fuller free throws. Fuller score five more points to go on a 7-0 run of his own to give USD a 57-51 lead with 5:31 to play.

Archambault returned to the lineup with 3:48 to play and a 10-point 63-53 lead. From there the Coyotes were able to keep their foot on the pedal and walk away with a strong victory.

“We’re figuring some things out offensively, but we’re going to have to guard,” Lee said. “We’re not a team that’s going to outscore you very often. We’re going to have to defend and we did in the second half, and that’s why we won the game.”

Fuller led the Coyotes with 20 points. Perrott-Hunt added 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Perrott-Hunt went 8-for-8 from the free throw line.

“I’m just going through my free throw routine,” Perrott-Hunt said. “I’m always looking at X (Xavier Fuller), he gives me some confidence when I go to the line.”

Archambault finished with 12 points in 18 minutes of action.

Penn led Bellarmine with 19 points and seven rebounds. CJ Fleming added 16 points and Alec Pfriem 10 points.

The Coyotes now prepare for to start of Summit League play with a game against last season’s tournament champion Oral Roberts Dec. 20.

“We haven’t lost this year at the Sports Center,” Lee said. “This is a four game homestand and to beat a good Bellarmine team right before league gives our guys some confidence…. Oral Roberts coming in here with (Max) Abmas and off a Sweet 16, we know how good they are.”

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BELLARMINE (5-7)

Curt Hopf 0-2 1-3 1, Juston Betz 1-3 2-2 4, Alec Pfriem 4-8 0-0 10, Dylan Penn 8-19 2-2 19, CJ Fleming 4-11 6-8 16, Garrett Tipton 3-7 0-0 8, Sam DeVault 1-2 1-2 4, Bash Wieland 1-2 0-0 2. TOTALS 22-54 12-17 64.

SOUTH DAKOTA (7-4)

Hunter Goodrick 2-4 2-2 6, Tasos Kamateros 2-8 0-0 5, Xavier Fuller 7-11 5-7 20, Kruz Perrott-Hunt 4-9 8-8 19, Mason Archambault 3-5 5-7 12, Boogie Anderson 2-3 2-2 6, Erik Oliver 2-5 0-0 6, Damani Hayes 0-1 4-6 4, Kanon Koster 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 22-47 26-32 78.

At the Half: BU 38, USD 35. Three-Pointers: USD 8-21 (Perrott-Hunt 3-5, Oliver 2-5, Archambault 1-2, Fuller 1-2, Kamateros 1-5, Goodrick 0-2), BU 8-20 (Tipton 2-4, Pfriem 2-5, Fleming 2-5, DeVault 1-1, Penn 1-4, Hopf 0-1). Rebounds: USD 31 (Goodrick 8), BU 30 (Betz 10). Assists: USD 12 (Perrott-Hunt 4), BU 12 (Betz 4). Steals: USD 5 (Kamateros, Fuller, Perrott-Hunt, Archambault, Oliver), BU 4 (Hopf, Betz, Fleming, Wieland). Blocked Shots: USD 4 (Fuller, Archambault, Oliver, Hayes), BU 0. Personal Fouls: BU 23, USD 18. Fouled Out: BU 1, USD 0. Turnovers: BU 13, USD 9.

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