USD men edged by Western Illinois 54-53
SIOUX FALLS -- In the end, everything the Coyotes had wasn't enough.
South Dakota's debut in the Summit League tournament came up one point short Saturday night in Sioux Falls, as the seventh-seeded Coyotes dropped a 54-53 decision to No. 2 seed Western Illinois in the quarterfinal round of the men's tournament.
USD's season ends at 10-20 and the loss to the Leathernecks is the eighth decided by five points or less. It's the third time USD has lost to Western Illinois and all of them have been in stinging fashion. The first two meetings were decided by two points between the Coyotes and the Leathernecks.
The Coyotes played well enough to take a 25-21 lead into the halftime break and took its largest lead of the night -- six points -- with a Casey Kasperbauer layup a minute into the second half.
Inside, USD forward Gruis had 12 points and 12 rebounds, taking advantage of the absence of WIU forward Terrell Parks, an first-team all-league selection, who is out with a foot injury.
The matchup was expected to be a close one. USD lost by two points in each of the first two meetings between the Leathernecks and the Coyotes.
WIU senior guard Ceola Clark III, who scored 21 points for the Leathernecks to lead all scorers, drilled a pivotal 3-pointer with less than five minutes remaining to give Western a 42-41 lead. The Leathernecks would not relinquish the advantage the rest of the game.