Smith’s Coyotes Lose Battle At Miles’ Huskers

USD Comeback Falls Short In 73-61

South Dakota cut a 26-4 deficit down to two points late in the second half, but couldn’t get over the hump in a 73-61 loss to Nebraska Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Matt Mooney led the Coyotes (6-4) with a game-high 18 points. Tyler Flack had 13 and Trey Dickerson added 11 for South Dakota.

It was a game billed as the mentor in Nebraska head coach Tim Miles against his protégé, USD head coach Craig Smith, a long-time assistant under Miles at four different programs including two seasons at Nebraska. It was Miles’ Huskers who connected on all cylinders early in building a 22-point lead less than nine minutes into the game. Smith adjusted his Coyotes to a 2-3 zone and outscored Nebraska 57-47 the rest of the way.

“It’s hard to overcome 26-4,” said Smith. “I’m really proud with how we played the last 32 minutes of the game. We played the way we were capable of playing.

“They are big, strong and athletic. They really got downhill. We’ve never seen that kind of speed.”

Nebraska (5-3) hit four 3-pointers, including back-to-back 3’s by Michael Jacobson, in building its lead. The Huskers made 9 of 23 from downtown for the game while the Coyotes went 5 for 16.

“We’re just so young and inexperienced and our guys really wanted to win this game,” said Smith. “I think we were just nervous, maybe a little stage fright. There are 15,000 people in this arena and it’s a Big Ten venue.”

South Dakota settled down and brought the lead down to 45-31 at halftime. Mooney scored 10 points in the opening half to get the Coyotes going. He and Flack combined to score USD’s first nine points out of the break as South Dakota made its climb.

Mooney and Dickerson combined for nine points and Trey Burch-Manning scored five more during a 14-2 run that got the Coyotes within two at 56-54 with 7:30 remaining. But Tai Webster answered with a 3 and South Dakota mustered just seven points the rest of the way.

Jack McVeigh scored seven of his team-high 16 points down the stretch, including his fourth 3 of the game, to help Nebraska seal the win. McVeigh led five Huskers who scored in double figures. Webster finished with 12 points and nine assists. Jacobson had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Dickerson had half of USD’s 12 assists and also had two steals for the Coyotes. Carlton Hurst matched his season high for rebounds with 10 and scored eight points. Flack had seven rebounds. Burch-Manning had seven points and six boards. The teams tied with 38 rebounds apiece.

It was the 37th meeting between the two teams and Nebraska has won the last 18, all played in Lincoln. South Dakota returns to Vermillion to host Montana State Wednesday and Sacramento State next Saturday.