USD men open Arizona Tip-Off with win over VMI

Nov. 17—GLENDALE, Ariz. — A balanced offensive effort lifted South Dakota basketball to an 85-81 win over the Virginia Military Institute in the first round of the Arizona Tip-Off Tournament on Friday afternoon at Desert Diamond Arena.

Four Coyotes went for double digits, as Kaleb Stewart scored 16 points, Lahat Thioune had 13 points, Mayuom Buom had 11 points and Steven Kramer notched 10 points. USD shot 31-of-67 from the field (46.3%) and 5-of-15 on 3-pointers (33.3%).

Leading by two at halftime, the Coyotes heated up in the second half, going on a 14-2 run to lead 66-53 with 9:43 remaining. A late VMI run, capped off by a 3-pointer from Brennan Watkins, cut the lead to 82-79 with 11 seconds remaining, but Paul Bruns responded with a pair of free throws to give USD a two-possession victory.

Watkins led all scorers with 27 points, while Koree Cotton added 16 points for the Keydets.

USD advances to the championship game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Purdue Fort Wayne and Northern Arizona.