For the second game in a row, DU (14-16, 5-12) built a large halftime lead, 40-12, but Saturday afternoon the Pioneers sealed the deal. Following a heartbreaking second-half meltdown Thursday night to South Dakota State, DU kept the pedal down in the second half of their matinee game and lead tape-to-tape against the South Dakota Coyotes (11-17, 6-10).
Denver raced out to the first-half lead, scoring 35 points before the Coyotes reached double figured with only 3:26 remaining in the first half. Denver held South Dakota to 3/23 from the field (13%) and 0/6 from downtown. DU’s James Sanders IV came off the bench and made the play of the first half with a fast break reverse layup-and-foul that ignited Hamilton Arena. DU shot 48.4% and landed 5/13 threes in the first 20 minutes. Touko Tainamo and Justin Mullins led the charge in the first 20 minutes with key buckets, rebounds and steals.
Freshman Justin Mullins carried his dominance over to the second half and Marko Lukic chipped in with a hot hand as Denver coasted to the finish line. The Pioneers, unlike Thursday night, solved the second-half press and scored a number of easy buckets or forced fouls. South Dakota stars A.J. Plitzuweit and Mason Archambault fouled out of the game as Denver kept up their offensive pressure and broke the press. Denver shot a blistering 62.5% from the field in the second half to end any hope of a comeback by the Coyotes.
Touko Tainamo led the Pioneers with 17 points, 6 rebounds and a block. Marko Lukic finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Freshman Justin Mullins filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals. Finally, Tevin Smith delivered 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Overall, a fantastic effort for a team coming off a tough home loss two days earlier. The game marked a two-game in-season conference sweep against the Coyotes.
Next up is Denver’s regular-season finale against Omaha at 3 pm MT at Hamilton Gym next Saturday.