Coyotes Send Seniors Off With Win Over Western Illinois
The Trevor Guis era at DakotaDome came to an end Saturday as the senior played in his 118th career game in a South Dakota uniform, and he saw his team best Western Illinois 64-54 in Vermillion.
Gruis, who has been battling the flu all week, didn't figure much in the scoring, finishing with just six points before he fouled out in the second half.
The visitors jumped on top early, scoring the first six points of the game, but after starting just 1-of-4 from the floor, USD hit four of their next six, keying a 9-0 run to take a two-point lead.
The Coyote defense was tough early on forcing five Leatherneck turnovers in the first eight minutes.
With the game tied at 17, USD went on another run, this time 7-0 to push the lead to seven. They were up 30-24 at the half despite being outshot 48 to 42 percent by WIU. The difference? A pair of 3-pointers from both Casey Kasperbauer and Tyler Flack and a 5-1 scoring advantage at the free throw line. Kasperbauer had eight first half points, Flack with six.
Freshman phenom Garret Covington, who scored 21 against USD in the first meeting, had seven first half points.
In the second half, the two teams traded runs, USD first with a 7-2 burst to push the lead to 11, but just as quickly WIU put together a 12-2 run to pull to within one.
With the Coyotes up one with 5:37 left, it was the two seniors, Gruis and Karim Rowson, playing in their first regular season game in Vermillion, keying a run with back-to-back baskets to give USD an eight point lead with 1:53 left.
Down the stretch it was free throws that made the difference as the Coyotes were 12-of-12 from the line in the second half to secure the win.
Rowson led USD with 11 points, Tyler Larson added 10. Covington's 19 was tops for WIU.
Both teams shot right around 45 percent, but the Coyotes outscored the Leathernecks by 12 behind the 3-point arc and by 10 at the free throw line.
South Dakota (12-16/6-6) finishes the regular season at North Dakota State Thursday, at South Dakota State Saturday.