(01/03) USD men vs. Valley City State

Today’s opponent for the USD men must be pretty tough.

Just ask the University of North Dakota.

Valley City State (6-8) visits the DakotaDome today, after already facing UND and North Dakota State this season. And against the UND Sioux, Valley City State was as close to winning as you can come. The Vikings led the Sioux by seven points with 25 seconds and lost on a banked-in three-pointer at the buzzer.

Valley City, which has used the motto “Where The Defense Never Rests” this season, returns all five starters from last year’s 22-9 team. It was the first 20-win season in 20 years for the men’s program. The Vikings boast six players averaging at least 9 points a game, led by Dareon Spencer (16.0).

At 11-5, the Coyotes have won eight straight games and are coming off a 99-63 pasting of Mayville State on Wednesday. In that win, Roman Gentry came off the bench to score 30 points.

USD will start the usual: Louie Krogman, Jesse Becker, Dylan Grimsley, Tyler Cain and Steve Smith.

Valley City State will start: Mike York (5-10), Calvin Kraft (6-3), Mike Stowman (6-2), Orlando Anderson (6-0) and Zac Wolff (6-7). So, there’s a definite size disparity down low, in USD’s favor.

— — — —

The first basket came at the 17:59 mark when Grimsley hit the second of two free throws. Smith followed with a putback off a Cain miss, but Valley City’s Stowman hit a long three. On the next time down the court, Smith scored again, on a nice spin move in the paint. We’re at the first media timeout with USD leading 5-3.

Another pretty sparse crowd. The roads in Vermillion are a little slippery, not icy, just slick. I found out the hard way. After stopping by the ATM quick, my car didn’t quite make a turn, and I slowly barreled into a curb. No damage, but a little too exciting for a Saturday.

The Coyotes are rolling in the early going. Krogman hit a three, then Roman Gentry hit two free throws, followed by a nice driving layup from Krogman. After another Valley City miss, Gentry rifled a pass down low to Cain, who turned and dunked one home. Vikings coach Jeff Kaminsky emphatically yells for a timeout. This ain’t Grand Forks.

Valley City’s leading scorer Dareon Spencer hits a three at the 12:54 mark, but Gentry follows with a running jumper, and Rane Mergen gets a layup off a nice pass from Cain. At the 11:25 mark, USD is up 18-6. The Vikings have made just 2-of-13 shots so far, with both being threes.

Just saw one of the best plays ever. Off a rebound, the ball bounced directly to Gentry, who was laying on the ground. Without really thinking, he rifled a pass through traffic to Cain, who threw one down. That really got the sparse DakotaDome crowd into the game. Oh, and USD leads 27-8. The Coyote defense has really clamped down today. At the under 8 timeout, the lead is now 32-11 after Valley City’s Kraft hit a three and USD’s Smith hit a wide open jumper.

I’ve never seen a team doing what USD is doing right now. The Coyotes are up 44-13 at the 4:31 mark, and Grimsley just finished off a nice pass from Becker with a running dunk in the baseline (his second dunk of the game). I guess Grimsley is feeling fine after suffering from the flu. Dylan has 13 points and Gentry has 11.

FYI, USD scored 47 points in the first half on Wednesday when it had 99 total. And with still 3:25 left in the first half here today, the Coyotes are up 46-15. Becker got on the board with a jumper.

The Vikings end the half on a 7-0 run, capped with a three-pointer from Spencer at the buzzer. Was it just me or did the clock start late on that inbounds play? At any rate, USD leads comfortably 48-25 at halftime.

— — — —

Valley City opens the second half with a basket, but USD follows with five straight free throws, four from Grimsley. USD has now shot 24 free throws, and the Vikings are headed to the line for the first time. The USD lead is 55-27.

I wish I could see the tape of this game. It’s been full of highlight reel type plays from the home team. The last sequence was a block by Cain on defense, a Gentry-led fast break, a Gentry missed layup but an acrobatic basket by Grimsley. Valley City’s coach calls a timeout with USD up 57-27.

The Coyote lead is 66-36 with 10:25 to play. The Vikings had scored five straight points, but USD got a free throw from Smith and a basket from Mergen. Before the deadball timeout, Valley City’s Mark Klingberg made a nice spin move and scored. Just noticed that the Vikings have a 7-foot freshman center who hasn’t played this season. Nice find.

Becker hits a three, Gentry hits a layup in transition and USD leads 73-42 with 6:27 to play. Grimsley has 26 points and the Coyotes are still up 79-50 with 3:50 to play. If Grimsley ends up with 30 points, he would become the fourth different Coyote this season to score at least 30. Even having three is pretty impressive for a team that has traditionally had balanced scoring.

John Kreklow has six points off the bench for USD, which leas 85-56 with 1:03 to play. Krogman added a pair of free throws before a Valley City timeout.

FINAL: USD 85, Valley City State 58

That’ll do it from the DakotaDome.

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