The Pioneers (11-10, 3-5 Summit), led by hot shooting freshman Thomas Neff and senior Marcus Byrd, took down the South Dakota Coyotes (10-12, 2-6 Summit) 66-52 at Magness Arena. The Pioneers overcame 19 turnovers with 31 rebounds and 50+% shooting from the field and 3-point land to polish off a cold shooting SD squad. The Pioneers led from the start with solid defense and held the lead the entire game. South Dakota employed a pesky press throughout the game forcing turnovers and shot clock violations but cold shooting and turnovers by the visitors eliminated any chance they had for a comeback.
In the first half, freshmen Joe Rosga got first blood with an opening layup. Then, after misses by South Dakota, Marcus Byrd took over with two 3-point bombs and a layup to take the lead to 13-4 at the 13 minute mark and DU held this 9 point margin for the next 5 minutes. DU started to miss shots and turn the ball over and the margin was cut to 5 points at the 4 minute mark. Red hot shooting by DU (56% field/63% from 3-point range) was offset by 9 turnovers to keep the score relatively close. Nearly all South Dakota points came from inside scoring. However, DU still went into the break with a 30 to 22 scoring advantage.
During the second half, the teams traded buckets for the first 8 minutes with the score settling at 35-28. Despite 17 DU turnovers at the 10 minute mark, DU still held the lead 47-34 – by shooting 52% from the field and 53% from downtown while dominating the boards 31-20. Despite a good press from South Dakota and some tense moments bringing up the ball, DU maintained a 61-43 lead with 4 minutes to go and held on during the final 3 minutes to close the door on the Coyotes 66-52.
DU finished the game with a 31 – 23 rebound advantage along with a combined 30 points from Neff and Byrd. While South Dakota outscored DU in the paint 34-20, cold shooting (42.9% field and 15.4% from 3) and turnovers (14) were their undoing.
Game Notes: Daniel Amigo sat on the bench with the team in street clothes (suit). LetsGoDU set the ‘win’ target for this years squad, based on experience and schedule, at 11 wins for the season. The Pioneers hit that target with half the conference schedule remaining. The Pioneers have a great chance to continue to exceed preseason expectations.