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USD men's defensive woes continue in loss to North Dakota

Feb. 1—VERMILLION — South Dakota men's basketball's defensive woes continued in a 95-81 loss to North Dakota on Thursday night at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

In the second half, the Coyotes (9-14, 2-6 in Summit League) surrendered 58 second-half points, including nine 3-pointers, and suffered their fourth-straight defeat. For the game, the Fighting Hawks shot 46.7 percent from the field, and 42.9 percent from 3-point range.

Despite the loss, USD had a bounce-back offensive performance, tallying its highest scoring total against a Division I opponent at home this season.

Off the bench, Paul Bruns shot 4-of-6 from beyond the arch, and finished with 18 points. Kaleb Stewart also notched 18 points, on 6-of-15 shooting, and Max Burchill had 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting. As a team, the Coyotes shot 44.4 percent from the field, and 50 percent from range.

However, the effort wasn't enough to keep up with UND. Trailing 37-30 at halftime, USD labored to stay in distance despite the Hawks' mounting offense, and cut the lead to 68-63 with 8:06 remaining. That would be the closest the Coyotes would get, though, as the Hawks went on a 20-8 run in the next six minutes of action.

A pair of North Dakota players surpassed 20 points, with B.J. Omot scoring a game-high 25 points and Tyree Ihenacho adding 21 points. Also in double digits for the Hawks was Amar Kuljuhovic (17 points), Treysen Eaglestaff (14 points) and Tsotne Tsartsidze (13 points).

According to Kenpom.com, USD is 339th in defensive efficiency, out of 362 teams. The Coyotes have allowed over 70 points in each of their last eight contests.

USD will look to rebound in a rivalry matchup against South Dakota State at 4 p.m. on Sunday in Brookings.