Yotes Prevail in Battle of Attrition; Sets Table For First Round Rematch
A chippy showdown at The Sanford Coyote Sports Center that ran a full gamut of emotions from start to finish set the table for North Dakota (13-17, 7-9 Summit) and South Dakota (20-11, 10-6 Summit) to face-off in the First Round of The Summit League Tournament in the Coyotes 77-67 victory.
Filip Rebraca amassed 17 points and 12 rebounds in his 12th double-double while Marlon Stewart finished with a game-high 19 points. De'Sean Allen-Eikens scored 15 points off the bench.
The opening half was a tug-of-war for the game's momentum as the Hawks and Yotes swapped scoring runs like trading cards. As a result, the game saw six lead changes and four ties in the opening 20 minutes of play.
North Dakota's bench proved to be a difference for the Hawks as they outscored USD in that category, 12-5, as Allen-Eikens scored nine points and tallied four rebounds to spark UND.
Collective momentum carried the Fighting Hawks in the final four minutes of the half as Ethan Igbanugo forced the Coyotes to burn a timeout after knocking down a three-pointer with 3:56 left in the half. That shot started a 7-0 rally for UND and lit the burner for Billy Brown just before the half as the senior hit a wide-open three from the corner to put UND up by five.
The Yotes closed the half on a 5-0 run to tie things up, 39-39. Rebraca posted 11 points, five rebounds, and a game-high three assists alongside Marlon Steward, who also scored seven points. South Dakota finished with 22 points in the paint.
Back-to-back treys in the first four minutes of play quickly put North Dakota down by seven with 15:02 left in the game, 50-43, as the Yotes and Hawks emotions began to rise.
South Dakota rose to the occasion in the battle of psychological wits as quick fouls in the second half resulted in Kienan Walter, Stewart, and Allen-Eikens to foul out in the second half.
Trailing by 12 points with under two minutes left, a trey by Igbanugo forced a USD timeout that failed to yield a result as Igbanugo snatched a bad pass and set up an Allen-Eikens layup in traffic. The 5-0 run put UND within seven, 74-67. However, turnovers and fouls on the offensive end couldn't reduce the deficit as USD walked away with the win.
The Fighting Hawks will return to action Sunday, March 8, at The Summit League Tournament at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. North Dakota and South Dakota will tipoff at 8:30 p.m. Central.