Western Illinois (9-17) at South Dakota (11-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 22, 5 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The DakotaDome (10,000) -- Vermillion, South Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: WIU 6-4, USD 9-3. Away Record: WIU 1-12, USD 2-11. Neutral Record: WIU 2-1, USD 0-1. Conference Record: WIU 3-8, USD 5-6. Series Record: Western Illinois leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: The South Dakota Coyotes will try to get to .500 in Summit League play, as they host the Western Illinois Leathernecks tonight at the DakotaDome.
The Coyotes escaped with a 87-86 win on Thursday night against Nebraska Omaha to improve to 5-6 in conference. Point guard Trey Norris made a game-winning free throw with 1.5 seconds left to propel USD to its second straight victory.
Norris' free throw followed a long-range 3-pointer by Omaha's Caleb Steffensmeier that tied the game at 86-86 with 19 seconds remaining. South Dakota, however, called timeout with 11 ticks left. Norris caught a pass with three seconds left at the top of the key and Omaha's Marcus Tyus ran out to challenge, but ran right into Norris to send him to the line.
Norris made the first and intentionally missed the second, but failed to hit the rim. With no timeouts left, Omaha threw a long pass into the frontcourt. South Dakota's Tyler Flack, who ended with 21 points, deflected the pass, but it went straight to Omaha's CJ Carter whose look from 30 feet away bounced off the top of the backboard and away as time expired.
South Dakota's leading scoring Trevor Guis was held to single digits. He averages 12.2 ppg and 6.3 rpg to lead the Coyotes, who also get 11.8 ppg from Brandon Bos. South Dakota averages 71.2 ppg and yields 71.9 ppg.
The Leathernecks come into this contest having lost five straight after Thursday's 75-67 setback to Denver. Tied with five minutes left, Denver scored five straight points to pull away for good to drop WIU to 3-8 in league play and 9-17 overall.
Garret Covington led four Leathernecks in double figures, finishing the night with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Also scoring in double figures was Michael Ochereobia (14), Jabari Sandifer (13) and Adam Link (12).
Covington leads the Leathernecks with 14.3 ppg. Western Illinois, though, struggles to score points, averaging only 61.7 ppg. However, the team does play stingy defense, yielding just 61.9 ppg.
This is the second meeting this season between these two schools. Back on Jan. 23, Covington scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds as Western Illinois came away with a 79-61 win. Also scoring in double figures for the Leathernecks were Sandifer with 13 points and both Ochereobia and Tate Stensgaard with 10. The Coyotes were led by Tyler Flack's 11 points.
In that game, Western Illinois scored the first points of the contest and never looked back, shooting 54.2 percent from the floor in the first half, en route to a 33-21 advantage at the break. South Dakota knocked down a total of just eight field goals through the first 20 minutes. The Leathernecks exploded for an astounding 71.4 percent accuracy from the field following intermission, not to mention 14-of-16 at the free-throw line in order to capture the 18- point home win. WIU survived 15 turnovers by converting 62.2 percent from the field, including 7-of-10 behind the 3-point line on the night.
Expect a different result here, as the Leathernecks are not a very good road team (1-12), while the Coyotes are 9-3 at home and playing for more than WIU at this point in the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota 65, Western Illinois 60
02/22 11:07:46 ET