Denver (5-18, 1-8 Summit League) raced out to a 26-16 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game, only to follow an old, familiar script the balance of the game. The South Dakota Coyotes pulled even 41-41 at the half and pulled away in the second twenty minutes. The visitors scored 38 points in the paint along with 26 fast-break-points. South Dakota doubled Denver’s 3-point shooting, 10-5. The teams (and fans) were tortured with 71 total free throws which made the game nearly two-and-a-half hours long.
During the first half, Ade Murkey with 15 points and Roscoe Eastmond with 10 points led the Pioneers. A Roscoe Eastmond jumper at 4:22 of the first half gave DU an 11 point lead. But South Dakota came charging back with three 3-point shots and three trips to the line. Denver shot 55% for the half to 43% for USD.
The second half was tight the first ten minutes with both teams holding narrow leads. A Hunter Goodrick layup gave the Coyotes a 4-point lead with 9:49 remaining. Denver held close but trailed by 6 points when Tyler Hagedorn nailed a 3-point shot to gave the visitors a 9 point lead, 83-74, with 2:46 remaining in the game. That shot took the air out of the arena. Denver could never recover, mostly exchanging free throws with the Coyotes and fell by the final score 93-87.
Senior Ade Murkey finished with 28 points and 6 rebounds. Sophomore Jase Townsend had 16 points and 8 rebounds. And, freshman Roscoe Eastmond finished the night with 15 points and 5 rebounds. Freshman big man Robert Jones had 9 points but only 1 rebound in 21 minutes of play as Denver was continually beaten in the paint. Unfortunately, sophomore David Nzekwesi could offer little inside support with only 2 points and 1 rebound in 13 minutes of play.
Denver still trails Western Illinois by one game in the standings for the eighth and final Summit League Conference playoff spot with seven games remaining.