DU basketball (6-13, 2-4) traveled to Vermillion, SD to face the South Dakota Coyotes (9-7, 2-3). The Pioneers played USD close but Denver’s front line struggled mightily in the 80-71 road loss.
The teams traded baskets early and were knotted 10-10 five minutes into the game behind 6 points from Mikey Henn and a pair of buckets by KJ Hunt. Denver got into the 1-and-1 with 11:13 left in the half but could never take advantage the balance of the period. USD outscored Denver 12-3 over the next five minutes to take a 22-13 mid-point lead. Cold shooting haunted the Pioneers as the Coyotes added 7 more points to build a 29-13 lead before a Denver timeout. Denver trailed 36-25 on a long-range three from Jordan Johnson with five minutes remaining in the first half. Denver closed the gap to single digits with under two minutes, 41-32, capped by a KJ Hunt drive. Denver trailed by 10 at the break, 44-34, but 8 turnovers and a -9 margin on rebounds was the difference.
Denver came out in the second half with long-distance shooting in mind. A pair of three’s by KJ Hunt and Jordan Johnson helped pull Denver within four points, 46-42, three minutes into the second half. The teams traded buckets for nine minutes until a pair of Mikey Henn three-pointers pulled Denver within two, 55-53, with twelve minutes remaining. USD started to pull away yet again and led 61-53 with ten minutes remaining. Denver trailed by four on a pair of KJ Hunt free throws with five minutes to go, 68-64, but the game slipped away from DU. A Pioneer turnover and flush by Boogie Anderson at 2:24 gave the Coyotes breathing room and a 74-67 lead. At that point, all Denver could do was foul down the stretch, settling at a final score of 80-71.
Denver was torched in the paint, 42-24, and was outrebounded by 9 boards as DU’s big men struggled. Touko Tainamo, Javonni Bickham and Tristan Green could only score 4 points while Mikey Henn hit 14 points. KJ Hunt had a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds along with Jordan Johnson’s 16. Ultimately, this was a winnable game for Denver but the Pioneer front line struggled all night long. Denver has now lost 41 consecutive road games, a team record.