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Men’s basketball runs out of gas in overtime

Garrett Covington taking his final shots in Western Hall

Garrett Covington taking his final shots in Western Hall

Angel Strack

Angel Strack

Garrett Covington taking his final shots in Western Hall

Danny Frey

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Western Illinois men’s basketball (8-20) team took top seed South Dakota (24-8) down to the wire on Saturday night before running out of gas in a 78-69 overtime loss.

“March madness is here officially,” said Craig Smith, South Dakota head coach. “I thought Western Illinois played a fantastic game. They defended very well, give them a lot of credit, but I thought our guys did a good job responding. We held them to one point in overtime. Defense has been our calling card all season and defense at the end of the day won the game for us.”

It was a slow, sloppy start for both teams offensively, with Western leading into the first media timeout 5-4. Quickly, Tyler Hagedorn and Matt Mooney heated up from deep, propelling an 8-0 South Dakota run and putting the Coyotes ahead 12-5 with 14:30 left in the first half.

Western responded with a Garret Covington old-fashioned 3-point play and a Mike Miklusak left-wing triple drawing the deficit to one early on. The Coyotes responded with another 8-0 run to make their lead 20-11 after a contested Tyler Flack mid-range jumper with 11:10 remaining.

Dalan Ancrum took advantage of his playing time off the bench with a put-back jam halfway through the first half. In the first half is when the Coyotes tried to pull away with a Carlton Hust strong drive and layup with 6:58 to go putting South Dakota up 26-20.

Not going away anytime soon, Covington connected on a triple with 3:45 left in the first half, cutting South Dakota’s lead down to 31-30. Out of the next media timeout, Covington drilled a mid-range jumper from the top of the key for Western’s first lead of the game 32-31.

Just under two minutes to go before halftime, Trey Dickerson stole the ball and finished on the other end, making it 35-32 Coyotes. CJ Duff proved to be the X factor on Saturday night by draining a trifecta from the wing before time expired, tying the ball game up at 37 heading into the half.

“Western Illinois is a good team,” Matt Mooney said.

“They gave us everything we could handle. I’ve heard people say before that it’s hard to beat a team three times and they really proved that tonight. We got some separation and then they came back.”

One of the Coyote adjustments made out of halftime was to pound the ball inside. This strategy led to a 52-43 South Dakota advantage seven minutes into the second half.

Ancrum splashed a 3-pointer to cut the Coyote lead back down to one at 56-55 with 8:50 left in the second half but Tyler Flack immediately answered with a one-handed flush plus the foul.

A Brandon Gilbeck two handed slam followed by a Covington straightaway three with 5:45 remaining in regulation cut the deficit back down to a point, 61-60. The Coyotes became visibly frustrated after a shot clock violation which Covington took advantage of by knotting the game up at 63 with one of Western’s 10 treys on the night.

With 3:20 left in regulation, Gilbeck handed the Leathernecks the lead with an exclamation point two-handed stuff. It took South Dakota until 2:08 left for Flack to tie the game at 65 on a 15-footer.

It was still a tie game until 25.4 seconds were left ticking on the clock thanks to a dagger leftwing triple from Mooney.

Like the whole game, the Leathernecks just wouldn’t quit, and it was Duff again in the waning seconds, this time from the corner, beating the second half buzzer to tie things up at 68.

On the other end with time running out, Flack got a good look but missed from straight on. The rebound went to Ancrum, who heaved a half-court prayer that barely rimmed out as buzzer went off. The game went to overtime tied at 68, although the half-court shot looked good when it was in the air. “It was a hopeful angle,” said Western Illinois head coach Billy Wright. “I thought it had a chance. Maybe (Ancrum) could have had one more dribble, but give the kid credit for having the presence of mind not to call a timeout because we didn’t have any and he had a great look at it.”

The Leathernecks did not attempt a single free throw in the second half, and in the overtime period, Flack threw down a ferocious tomahawk slam with 2:02 remaining. At that point, Western trailed 73-69 and there wasn’t much left in the tank as South Dakota survives to the semi-final round on Monday.

“For the most part I thought it was a hard fought game,” Wright said. “Our kids never gave up and made some great plays, so I’m really proud of the way they fought and competed but we came up a little bit short.”

Covington in his final collegiate game scored a gamehigh 25 points while Miklusak closed out his career with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. Duff delivered 12 points off of the bench and Gilbeck sent back five blocks to set the single season blocks record at Western Illinois with 84 swats this season.

Mooney paved the way for South Dakota with 24 points and 6 boards followed by a 19 and 6 performance for Flack.

For the Leathernecks, it marks the end of an era for seniors Garret Covington, Mike Miklusak and Jabari Sandifer, who was injured but still made the trip to the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

“Those three have a tremendous amount of loyalty to the program and university,” Wright said. “They were the foundation of my ‘All In’ philosophy and I can’t say enough about their contributions on and off the court.”

Twitter: @smallmedorlarge

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Men’s basketball runs out of gas in overtime