South Dakota jumped out to a 15-point lead early and hung on late to score a 72-67 win against Montana Sunday inside Sanford Coyote Sports Center. The Coyotes improved to 4-0 in their new facility and to 6-2 overall. Montana fell to 1-6, though four losses are to teams from Power 5 conferences.
South Dakota got 18 points each from Tyler Flack and Matt Mooney, and Carlton Hurst added 13. Montana got 14 points from Sayeed Pridgett and 12 from Jared Samuelson. Both players came off the bench. Jack Lopez added 11 points for the Griz.
Flack, Mooney and Hurst combined for all 14 points during a run midway thru the first half that put the Coyotes ahead 24-9. Mooney began the rally with a 3, Hurst hit back-to-back triples, and Flack made it four in a row before Mooney finished off the run with a layup with 9:15 remaining.
Montana, meanwhile, was held scoreless for nearly six minutes after leading 8-5 less than five minutes into the game. Pridgett and Samuelson combined to make 5-of-6 shots in the first half and the Griz were able to cut the lead down to eight, 36-28, at the break.
South Dakota pushed the lead back to 12 early in the second half, but Pridgett and Mario Dunn led Montana on a 23-12 run that spanned nearly eight minutes to make it a one-point game, 52-51, with 9:36 remaining. Pridgett scored eight of his 12 in that span and Dunn hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Montana was 7 of 19 from downtown while South Dakota made a season-high nine off 23 attempts.
Three times Montana climbed within a point, but South Dakota always had an answer and more often than not it was Mooney, who scored 11 points in the game's final 10 minutes. His second 3 of the game stopped Montana's first rally and Hurst made two free throws that gave USD a 57-51 edge with eight minutes left. He hit a jumper at the 2:27 mark that gave USD a 68-65 lead. He scored the game's final three points from the free-throw line including two with 11 seconds left that made it a two-possession game.
Montana's last bucket came from Ahmaad Rorie with three minutes to go. The Griz registered just two free throws the rest of the way. Rorie, who was averaging 15 points a game, totaled six Sunday and took just four shots.
Flack finished one rebound shy of his second double-double of the season and South Dakota had 11 offensive rebounds that led to 13 points. The Coyotes also committed a season-low seven turnovers and outscored the Griz from the charity stripe 27-10.
South Dakota returns to the road this week to face UMKC Wednesday and Nebraska Saturday.