Another close loss for USD men

BY JEREMY HOECK
jeremy.hoeck@yankton.net

There aren’t many times a team will score 86 and 90 points in consecutive home games, and come away with zero wins.

You figure, if you put together offensive performances like those, you should at least be able to muster out a victory, right?

Well, for the University of South Dakota men’s basketball team, not so much.

Thursday night against Summit League newcomer Omaha was more of the same for the Coyotes, who suffered a 95-90 loss. In many ways, it was very similar to the 90-86 defeat to Kansas City back on Jan. 12 — few defensive stops, plenty of jumpers, plenty of missed assignments and plenty of head scratching afterword.

It’s becoming a regular sight for USD (8-13, 4-5), especially at home: Defensive miscues leading to early deficits, and though the Coyotes have clawed back each of the last two games, the opponent had just a little more.

Senior point guard Juevol Myles had a great line after the game. He said, “We fought back, but we don’t want to keep saying, ‘It was a nice effort. We want to say, ‘It’s a nice effort and a nice win’ at the end of the night.”

On the one hand, the Coyotes have proven they can hang with just about everyone in the Summit League offensively. Consider, they lost by two to Western Illinois, beat South Dakota State and rolled past Oakland. Those are three of the best four teams in the conference.

And then you look at the other side of the coin for USD: Allow 92 points to North Dakota State, 90 to Kansas City and 95 to Omaha.

Asked later about the game, Coyote head coach Dave Boots sounded very much like he did after the loss to Kansas City. He commended the offensive rhythm (15 assists to just 5 turnovers), but pointed to physical limitations as reasons why the defense is struggling. Thursday wasn’t so much of a case as Omaha getting wide open shots (of which there were more than a few), it was more that the Mavericks hit those shots and were able to convert down low — 56 percent for the game.

Each time the Coyotes would make a move late to get close, and they did get to within two points twice in the final minute, the Mavericks would respond. USD was forced to foul, and Omaha was 4-of-4 at the line in that final scramble.

And so, here the Coyotes are: Searching for answers again, with plenty of time to evaluate things before next Thursday’s game in Brookings.

•• Wanted to add in a note about junior Steve Tecker. The 6-foot-5 Tecker started at the four spot for the Coyotes on Thursday, and responded with a solid game. He finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals. He’s not the flashiest kid (or the most talkative one) out there, but he showed Thursday why he’s getting minutes: He can play.

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