Summit League Tournament Preview: #6 South Dakota vs. #3 Purdue-Fort Wayne
After a regular season that featured an abundance of injuries and close losses, South Dakota seems to be putting things together at just the right time, heading in the 2019 Summit League Tournament.
The Coyotes (13-16/7-9 Summit League) are the number-six seed in the eight-team field but are wondering what might have been in a year which saw lose all-conference forward Tyler Hagedorn for the season and all-conference forward Trey Burch-Manning for four Summit League games.
USD also dropped more than their fair share of tight games, losing six conference games by six points or less.
The Coyotes won four-of-five to close out the regular season, holding opponents to 67 points or less in each of those victories.
South Dakota opens the postseason with Purdue-Fort Wayne.
The third-seeded Mastodons (17-14/9-7 Summit League) have struggled down the stretch, losing four straight.
Fort Wayne takes and makes more three-pointers than any team in the league and is second to South Dakota State in scoring.
Senior guard John Konchar is having a phenomenal final season. He leads the Summit in assists and steals, is second in scoring, third in blocked shots, fourth in minutes played, and sixth in rebounding.
Senior guard Kason Harrell and junior forward Matt Holba score a combined 27 points per game.
The Mastodons allow more points per game (90) than any team in the league.
Tipoff is 8:30 PM, Sunday (March 10) at the PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls.
The two teams split during the regular season.
South Dakota ended Fort Wayne's six-game winning streak with a 14-point win in Vermillion in January, while the Mastodons returned the favor with a 31-point victory in Indiana a little more than two weeks later.
USD shot 54 percent for the game and scored 50 second-half points in the first game. P-FW scored 55 first-half points and held the Coyotes to just 37 percent from the floor in the rematch.
The winner advances to the semifinals, Monday (March 11) night.
South Dakota secured the number-six seed with a home sweep of the North Dakota schools to end the regular season.
Thursday (February 28), USD beat North Dakota State 75-65, overcoming an early 9-0 deficit.
The Coyotes shot 50 percent in the second half and went 18-of-20 from the free throw line in the second 20 minutes.
The USD defense limited NDSU to under 30 percent shooting in the second half.
In the regular season finale Saturday (March 2), USD beat North Dakota 78-63.
The Coyotes led by two at halftime after scoring 11 unanswered points during one stretch of the first half.
South Dakota scored 45 points in the second half on 58 percent shooting while limiting the Fighting Hawks to 38 percent from the floor in the final 20 minutes.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Todd Lee about last week's wins and the match-up with Purdue-Fort Wayne: