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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Sioux Falls Arena (7,500) -- Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Television: FCS, Midco Sports. Home Record: USD 5-7, WIU 12-2. Away Record: USD 4-11, WIU 7-5. Neutral Record: USD 1-1, WIU 2-0. Conference Record: USD 5-11, WIU 13-3. Series Record: Western Illinois leads, 4-2.
GAME NOTES: The quarterfinal round of the 2013 Summit League Tournament continues on Saturday night, as the second-seeded Western Illinois Leathernecks take on the seventh-seeded South Dakota Coyotes at Sioux Falls Arena.
The winner advances to play either North Dakota State or UMKC in the semifinals on Monday.
South Dakota's regular season wasn't much to brag about, as it finished with just a 5-11 record in the Summit League and has lost nearly twice as many games as it has won overall (10-19). The Coyotes are coming into the tournament cold, having lost seven of their last nine games.
On the other hand, Western Illinois has been spectacular this season, breaking a school record for most wins in the Division I era (21), and at 13-3 in the Summit, it earned a share of the league's regular-season title for the first time in 30 years. The Leathernecks earned the second seed after losing the tie-breaker with top-seeded South Dakota State, with which they shared the championship.
This matchup marks a rematch of the regular-season finale, which WIU squeaked out at home, 61-59, to extend its lead in the all-time series to 4-2. Although South Dakota was within single-digits of the lead the entire second half, including just a single point in the final minute after Juevol Myles scored five points in a matter of three seconds, it could never get over the hump. Leading the way for the Leathernecks was Ceola Clark, who shot 6-of-11 from 3- point range for 27 points, while Jack Houpt added 15 points to the winning effort. For the Coyotes, Myles and Trevor Gruis each netted 19 points, with Gruis narrowly missing a double-double with nine rebounds.
South Dakota has one of the stronger offensive attacks in the Summit League, as it pours in 71.0 ppg on greater than 45 percent from the field, but it wades near the bottom of the league standings thanks to a porous defense (.461 FG percentage defense, 74.3 ppg). Myles (15.5 ppg) is an outstanding free- throw shooter (.882), but his field goal percentage (.383) hasn't helped his team much. On the other hand, Gruis has been great from the floor (.568) for his 12.3 ppg to go along with a team-best 5.9 rpg. Brandon Bos rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers with 11.1 ppg.
WIU has put together the best season in school history behind a spectacular defensive effort, which not only ranks tops in the Summit League in allowing just 52.6 ppg, but second in all of Division I behind only Stephen F. Austin. While its scoring offense may not seem impressive (60.0 ppg), the team makes good on just shy of 47 percent of its field goal attempts and 40 percent of its 3-point tries. Terrell Parks (12.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.5 bpg) is one of the league's most dominating big men, but he is questionable for this matchup with a foot injury that has held him out of the last two contests. Clark scores 12.3 ppg on 64-of-151 from beyond the arc (.424), while Adam Link chips in 9.8 ppg.
South Dakota made WIU sweat in the regular-season finale, which was an incredibly impressive feat on the road, and gave the team the confidence that it can pull off an upset here. The Leathernecks are clearly not the same team without Parks in the lineup, but even if he cannot suit up, they have come too far and played too well this season to fall to a wildly inconsistent Coyotes squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 66, South Dakota 57
03/09 10:42:14 ET
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