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UPDATED: South Dakota holds off Warriors, 81-75

Using its veteran and balanced lineup to the fullest against young and short-handed Hawai’i, South Dakota took control in the first half and then held off a late rally by the Warriors to prevail, 81-75, Sunday evening in the second round of the 55th Annual Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic.

An energized and vocal Stan Sheriff Center crowd of about 3,200 (5,200 tickets issued) watched Triston Simpson score 22 points and Stanley Umude add 21 points and seven rebounds as the Coyotes improved to 2-0. Eddie Stansberry scored all 21 of his points in the second half and grabbed five boards, and Samuta Avea added 14 points for the Warriors, who fell to 1-1. 

South Dakota built a solid 35-27 halftime lead and extended it to 53-42 midway through the second half, before UH clawed back and eventually closed it to 77-75 with 11.9 seconds remaining. But the Coyotes hit four straight free throws in the final moments to seal the victory.

“First off, I want to give all the credit to South Dakota,” said Warriors acting head coach Chris Gerlufsen. “I was impressed with them (while) preparing for the game, and I was even more impressed when we played against them. That’s a veteran group that I expect to win a lot of games this year, to me that’s a potential NCAA Tournament team, and they made veteran plays down the stretch. They found a way to win, and we left a few plays on the table that I probably wish we had back. 

“But I can’t do anything but credit our guys for the fight and the grit and the toughness they showed in the second half, because we could have folded (but) we hung in there, and hung in there and made it a game in the end, and that’s what you ask for. I thought it was a really good college basketball game.”

The Coyotes, who started four seniors and a junior, came out with a disciplined motion offense that featured excellent shot selection and clean looks mostly in the paint while jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the first four minutes. Dawson Carper dropped in a layup to start Hawai’i on a 14-4 run capped by Justin Hemsley’s 3-pointer that put the Warriors ahead, 16-15, with 11:10 remaining.

But that lead was brief, as South Dakota took it back for good on Hunter Goodrick’s layup 30 seconds later and then extended it to 35-25 after a 3-pointer by Simpson from the right wing with 3:23 left.

Warriors freshman backup point guard Kameron Ng dropped in a floater on a quick drive into the lane with 1:16 remaining to close it to 35-27, which is how it stood at halftime.

The Coyotes shot 48.4 percent (15 of 31) from the field in the first half, compared to 35.7 percent (10 of 28) for UH.

“They were moving (a lot), and when you’re trying to defend a team like that the rotations become more difficult, and we didn’t do a good job at times,” Avea said. “Credit to them for playing hard, and playing in their game. They’re hard to guard when they move around like that.”

Stansberry said South Dakota’s shot-making ability from both inside the paint and on the perimeter added to the degree of difficulty.

“They’re a well-disciplined team right there, and they definitely showed it tonight,” Stansberry said. “They started off inside, and then they started making shots from the outside, so it was kind of like pick-your-poison. There were a couple rotations where we just weren’t there, and they were kind of getting both sides of it — inside and outside. So when we play teams like that, it’s tough. We can’t afford to give up possessions, and we gave those up early on. It’s something we look to fix in the future.”

Gerlufsen said the Coyotes effectively set the game’s tone early on, something the Warriors should not allow an opponent to do easily.

“Sometimes as a coach, we say that the other team doesn’t ‘feel’ us, and I thought to start the game, (South Dakota) didn’t feel us,” Gerlufsen said. “We were too much on our heels, I don’t think we took the fight to them, we let them throw the first punch and we took a couple punches early. So at halftime, we just talked about needing to be tougher. We needed to ramp up our competitive spirit, and I thought coming out in the second half, we did that.”  

Stansberry swished a 15-footer from the right elbow three minutes after intermission to cap a 6-0 run and close it to 35-33, but the Coyotes weathered the storm and eventually pushed the lead to 53-42 after Tyler Peterson’s 3-pointer from the right wing with 12:24 left. Making matters worse, Hawai’i starting point guard Drew Buggs picked up his third foul at the 13:27 mark and his fourth with 9:43 remaining, sending him to the bench each time.

South Dakota maintained the lead and it was 64-54 with just over seven minutes left when Stansberry swished a 3-pointer from the right corner to start the Warriors on a 14-7 run capped by Stansberry’s two free throws to close it to 71-68 with 1:44 left. Peterson then made one of two free throws 23 seconds later to push the lead to 72-68, but Zigmars Raimo scored on a driving layup to cut it to 72-70 with 1:08 remaining.

Goodrick converted one of two free throws to make it 73-70 with 0:51.9 showing on the clock, and Buggs missed a layup in heavy traffic on the Warriors’ next possession. Simpson then sank two free throws to push the lead to 75-70 with 36.5 seconds left, but Stansberry drained another 3-pointer from the top of the key eight seconds later to close it to 75-73. 

Cody Kelley made two free throws to push the lead to 77-73 with 18.3 seconds remaining, but Buggs scored a layup on the other end to cut it to 77-75 and Hawai’i called timeout with 11.9 ticks on the clock. But Kelley sank two more free throws to make it 79-75, and Buggs could not convert a tough layup while being bumped in midair on the other end.

“We can’t dig ourselves a hole with good teams like that being down (as much as 10 points) in the first half,” Avea said. “They’re too good a team to get ourselves down and then try to fight back, which we did — we showed good fight. But they’re a good team.”

Stansberry, who struggled through a 2-for-13 shooting night in Friday’s victory over Florida A & M, missed his only shot attempt in the first half Sunday but went 7 for 12 (58.3 percent) in the second half, including 3 of 6 attempts from 3-point range.

“I knew I needed a bit more energy to help the guys (in the second half), and they all supported me at halftime in the locker room just telling me to bring that energy that I usually have and just to go out there with the same confidence I normally (have),” Stansberry said. “It was better in the second half, that’s something I just gotta pick up myself, but the whole team collectively … the energy from the start was (at) a slower pace than in the second half.”

The Warriors will wrap up Classic play at 7 p.m. Monday against Pacific (1-1) at the SSC.

“We have to turn the page quickly, because we have a good team that we’re facing in Pacific,” Gerlufsen said. “You can look at it two ways — if you don’t respond the right way and have a hangover from the loss … if you let it carry over, we could be in some trouble. So that was the first thing we talked about in the locker room, is how do we respond? No one in the locker room is happy we lost, so (Monday) is the next chance to play someone else and get back on the right side of the win column.”

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

CLICK HERE to view more photos

Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic
Sunday’s Results

Pacific 76, Florida A&M 54
South Dakota 81, Hawai’i 75

Monday’s Games
4:30 p.m. – Florida A&M vs. South Dakota
7:00 p.m. – Hawai’i vs. Pacific

When: Monday, November 11, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live on Spectrum Sports (Spectrum stations 16/1016)
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM/92.7 FM
Streaming video: www.bigwest.tv
Streaming audio: www.espnhonolulu.com or Sideline Hawaii app
Live stats: www.hawaiiathletics.com
Tickets: Lower level – $32; Upper level (prices vary by section) – $22 or $18 for adults, $18 or $15 for senior citizens, $8 or $5 for students. Free for UH Manoa students with ID. Parking is $7.

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