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.
One thought on “Coyotes Power Past Pioneers”
Liked DU’s effort level, especially in the second half. But DU just does not have the depth to compensate for those times when three key guys like Porter or Tanaimo or Smith struggle offensively, as they did last night. As good as JJ, Hunt and Henn were last night, DU needs four or five guys to play exceptionally well to turn these losses into wins, not just three.
Welbrun is a smart guy and I’m sure he and his staff will be looking hard at finding the right guys to fill the holes for next year, with a full recruiting cycle and the transfer portal.