VERMILLION — How does a team that’s won seven-of-eight Summit League games respond to playing an NAIA team right before the stretch run of the season?
A 106-45 thrashing.
“You want to be able to get the young guys some minutes and you want the bench to get some minutes,” South Dakota head coach Todd Lee said postgame after Tuesday night’s victory at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
“That’s what you’re looking for in a game like that. We didn’t we didn’t have a home game for about two and a half, three weeks during this stretch, so that’s why we scheduled it. And I think our bench played well tonight and responded.”
Don’t tell South Dakota (17-8, 7-3 in Summit) they were prepping for a Peru State (12-11) team that currently sits in fourth place of the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
“We’re playing really good basketball, as a lot of team’s are in the middle of conference (play),” Cody Kelley said of the mindset heading into the matchup. “It’s kind of weird having a non-conference game here. But you have to look at it as opportunity to get better. I think everyone looked at it as an opportunity to get better today.”
Kelley took that opportunity, and he ran with it.
He secured a career-high 27-points on 10-of-12 shooting and seven steals on Tuesday evening at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
“I think my teammates did a really good job of finding me in open space,” Kelley explained of the career night. “Triston (Simpson) is playing really well at the point right now. He and Tyler (Peterson) are so unselfish. I’m really just, you know, getting good shots because of them.”
After a 17-7 start, USD went on separate runs of 14-3 and 14-2 on the back end of the first half to secure a 28-point lead at halftime.
The first half saw a combined 26 turnovers, as the Coyotes committed 11 of them.
“We actually had too many turnovers in the first half,” Kelley noted. “I thought I think we were a little careless, but we came out and corrected that. We did a good job getting out and running and getting guys in space.”
USD responded and only committed one turnover in the second half, which helped them secure a 61-point victory, easily the biggest of the season, and sixth in a row.
Tasos Kamateros, a freshman from Athens, Greece, made the most of his extended minutes. After playing eight minutes and securing five points in a narrow victory against Omaha on Sunday, Kamateros roared for a career-high 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting and four rebounds.
“That’s why I came here, I love to play basketball,” Kamateros said of his night. “I don’t care about minutes. I don’t care about baskets. I care about winning.”
The Coyotes, two games out of first place in the Summit League, have just six games remaining in the regular season.
“A lot of people think you need to get extra rest right now,” Kelley said of keeping the team’s momentum rolling. “But I think we’ve been playing well with our depth and our bench has been playing really well. So, I think it’s a great opportunity to just get back to the grind. We’ve been practicing really hard going at it. I think that’s been correlated to the games. We don’t take it lightly.”
Lee and USD voyage to Grand Forks on Saturday to face the North Dakota Fighting Hawks (10-13, 4-5 in Summit) at 2pm.
“We’ve got three days to prepare,” Lee explained. “They’re playing a game Thursday night against Oral Roberts, who’s a very physical team. It’s going be a tough game up there for us and it’s always hard to win there.”
He explained bottling up junior Fighting Hawks guard Marlon Stewart (17.8 points and 5.7 rebounds) will be crucial to the Coyotes’ chances.
“Marlon Stewart’s one of the best guards in the league,” Lee noted. “He’s a handful and leads the league in assists. He’s a really physically tough player to match up against gets going downhill and can really shoot it.”
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South Dakota 106, Peru State 45
PERU STATE (10-12)
Brooks 1-2 0-0 2, Robinson 2-6 0-0 4, Brannon 2-5 2-2 6, Colley 1-7 0-0 2, Tanksley 2-5 1-2 6, McReynolds 1-2 1-2 4, Connell 2-6 0-0 6, Switzer 3-9 0-0 7, Martinac 3-6 0-0 8, Borders 0-1 0-0 0, Petersen 0-2 0-0 0, McCoy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-51 4-6 45.
SOUTH DAKOTA (17-8)
Hagedorn 5-6 3-3 14, Kelley 10-12 1-1 27, Peterson 1-3 0-0 2, T.Simpson 2-4 0-0 4, Umude 6-8 3-4 16, Armstrong 3-7 0-0 8, Goodrick 2-3 1-2 6, Kamateros 6-6 3-3 15, Perrott-Hunt 2-3 0-0 5, Chisom 3-4 0-0 6, Hoffman 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 41-61 11-13 106.
Halftime—South Dakota 48-20. 3-Point Goals—Peru State 7-27 (Martinac 2-4, Connell 2-6, McReynolds 1-2, Tanksley 1-4, Switzer 1-5, Brannon 0-1, Petersen 0-1, Colley 0-2, Robinson 0-2), South Dakota 13-30 (Kelley 6-8, Armstrong 2-6, Goodrick 1-2, Hagedorn 1-2, Perrott-Hunt 1-2, Umude 1-2, Hoffman 1-5, Chisom 0-1, T.Simpson 0-2). Fouled Out—Brooks. Rebounds—Peru State 22 (Brannon 5), South Dakota 30 (Hagedorn 7). Assists—Peru State 8 (Colley, Borders 2), South Dakota 23 (T.Simpson 5). Total Fouls—Peru State 14, South Dakota 8. A—1,610 (6,000).
Note—Game was a non-counter for Peru State