While three teams enter the final week of the first half of the 2019 Summit League schedule within a game of first place, four other teams are trying to elevate themselves off of the bottom of the standings.

South Dakota is in that quartet.

The Coyotes (8-11/2-4 Summit League) are coming off of back-to-back road losses as they get set to face two of the other two-win teams this week.

A third strasight road game, at North Dakota, is up first for USD.

The Fighting Hawks (8-12/2-5 Summit League) have dropped two straight despite hitting 14 three-pointers against South Dakota State and turning it over just eight times against North Dakota State.

UND defends the three-point line better than anyone in the Summit and is in the top three in the league in three-point shooting. Guard Marlon Stewart hit five long-range shots in the SDSU loss.

Senior forward Conner Avants scores 14 points per game and is second in the conference in shooting accuracy (63%).

Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Wednesday in Grand Forks. North Dakota's last three losses have been by a combined seven points.

The Coyotes close out the first half at home with Western Illinois.

The Leathernecks (7-13/2-5 Summit League) will be well rested with six off days since one of their best performances of the season - a 29-point win over Purdue-Fort Wayne.

In that game, WIU shot 57 percent and drained a season-high 15 three-pointers.

Sophomore guard Kobe Webster is in the top ten in the conference in scoring, three-point shooting, assists, and steals.

Senior center Brandon Gilbeck leads the Summit in blocked shots, is fourth in field goal percentage, and is fifth in rebounding.

Last time out, the Leathernecks defense held Fort Wayne, one of the top three-point shooting teams in Division I to just 4-of-20 from behind the arc.

Tipoff is 3:30 PM, Saturday in Vermillion.

Last week, the Coyotes played a pair on the road, starting with a 77-74 loss at Oral Roberts Thursday (January 17).

USD outshot ORU 45 to 37 percent in the first half but trailed by seven at intermission after being outscored 14-4 at the free throw line and 12-0 on second-chance points on ten Golden Eagle offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

Coyote head coach Todd Lee beat his team to the locker room after he was ejected for arguing with the officials with 1:42 left.

USD's Stanley Umude scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting. ORU was led by Kevin Obanor who scored 17 of his game-high 31 points in the first half.

The Golden Eagles pushed the lead to as many as 15 points in the second half before the Coyotes began chipping away.

South Dakota got it to within three points three different times in the final two minutes but missed three shots in the final 15 seconds.

Tyler Peterson (20 points/12 rebounds) and Cody Kelley (14 points/10 rebounds) each had double-doubles for the Coyotes in a losing effort.

Oral Roberts got 24 points from DeShang Weaver, who buried five three-pointers.

The Golden Eagles won despite shooting just 39 percent.

Sunday (January 20) at Omaha, the Coyotes did an effective job of slowing down the Mavericks up-tempo offense, limiting UNO to just 38 percent shooting in the first half and leading by three at intermission.

But the Mavs responded with 65 percent second-half shooting, including 7-of-11 from the three-point line to beat USD 78-65.

Zach Jackson his 7-of-12 from the floor for 21 points to lead Omaha. Umude had his second straight 20 point game for the Coyotes, scoring 20 on 8-of-15 shooting.

I talked with Coyotes head coach Todd Lee about last week's games and this week's match-ups with North Dakota and Western Illinois:


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