VERMILLION — You’d expect a Player of the Year to do exactly what Stanley Umude did in a three-minute span Saturday.
He took over.
In just about every way one could take over a game.
And Umude could feel it, too.
The junior — tabbed the Summit League preseason Player of the Year — scored 14 straight points for South Dakota in the second half as the Coyotes surged past first-place Omaha 91-81 on Saturday at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
“The whole game I was trying to be patient and let the game come to me a little bit; not force anything,” said Umude, who finished with 27 points.
It was the certain three-minute span, however, that turned the game around.
Omaha took a 68-66 lead at the 7:32 mark of the second half, and Umude later scored on a layup at the 6:44 mark. From that point until the 3:33 mark, he scored 14 straight points.
“I got to the free throw line, made a three and started feeling good,” Umude said.
Included in that 14-0 spurt were a layup, jumper, a soaring dunk, two three-pointers and four free throws.
“There are not a lot of guys in this league that can get as hot as Stanley can get,” senior Tyler Hagedorn said.
“There aren’t a lot of guys who can take over like Stanley.”
The fact that he did allowed the Coyotes (11-7, 2-2) to secure a victory that head coach Todd Lee acknowledged later was “no question” close to a ‘must-win.’
“To win a big game, guys have to step up and just knock down shots, and that’s what Stan did,” Lee said.
With games this week looming with North Dakota State and South Dakota State, there remained the possibility that the Coyotes could slip up at home against first-place Omaha and fall even further back of first place.
“You could call it a must-win, potentially,” Hagedorn said.
“We’d be 1 and 3 if we would’ve lost, but yeah, it just feels really good.”
Omaha (10-9, 3-1) came into Vermillion having already defeated Oral Roberts and South Dakota State in the conference season.
“For us to beat them was a big win for us and a much-needed win,” Lee said.
It was also a historic one for a pair of Coyotes.
Senior guards Triston Simpson and Tyler Peterson both eclipsed 1,000 career points on Saturday: Simpson finished with 10 points and Peterson scored 14 points.
For good measure, Hagedorn’s 19 points brought him to 974 points for his career.
Asked if the Coyotes have righted the ship a bit after back-to-back wins following a four-game losing streak, Lee said the return of some guys from injury has helped.
“Triston every day gets a little closer,” Lee said. “He’s still not where he’s been, but you could see some explosiveness, getting to the rim.”
Hunter Goodrick also returned from injury to see seven minutes of action Saturday, and the Coyotes are hoping to get Matt Johns back into the rotation soon, according to Lee.
For now, though, USD heads into a rather crucial week following two straight league wins.
The Coyotes visited North Dakota State on Wednesday and will host South Dakota State next Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
“Tonight’s win we’re definitely going to celebrate and enjoy it, but we definitely have a big challenge ahead of us these next couple games,” Hagedorn said.
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Gibson 4-10 2-2 12, Thornhill 4-7 0-0 8, K.Robinson 7-16 2-2 20, Tut 6-9 1-1 13, Ruffin 3-6 4-7 11, Akinwole 2-4 0-0 5, Pile 5-7 0-0 10, Hughes 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 32-61 9-12 81.
SOUTH DAKOTA (11-7)
Umude 9-16 6-8 27, Kelley 2-8 6-6 12, Simpson 3-8 4-6 10, Hagedorn 4-8 7-7 19, Peterson 6-11 2-3 14, Chisom 1-2 0-4 2, Armstrong 2-2 0-0 5, Goodrick 0-0 2-2 2, Jovic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-55 27-36 91.
Halftime — Omaha 45-43. Three-Pointers — Omaha 8-26 (K.Robinson 4-11, Gibson 2-8, Ruffin 1-2, Akinwole 1-3, Thornhill 0-2), USD 10-18 (Hagedorn 4-5, Umude 3-4, Kelley 2-5, Armstrong 1-1, Peterson 0-1, Simpson 0-2). Fouled Out — Ruffin. Rebounds — Omaha 30 (Pile 8), USD 27 (Hagedorn 8). Assists — Omaha 11 (Thornhill 5), USD 13 (Hagedorn 5). Total Fouls — Omaha 25, USD 14. Attendance — 2,617.