The University of South Dakota found a new hero as the Coyotes earned a home victory Thursday.
South Dakota sophomore point guard Trey Norris scored a season-high 20 points and made two free throws with 12 seconds remaining for the final points in a 76-75 USD win against Cal State Northridge Thursday night at DakotaDome.
It was the first meeting between the two programs. The win kicks off a five-game home stand for the Coyotes (4-9), who ended a six-game skid. The Matadors fell to 8-7.
Norris hit two three-pointers and scored eight points in the final four minutes as USD overcame a 71-63 deficit. Senior center Trevor Gruis scored the other five points during the final push and finished with 11 points. Brandon Bos had 13.
Stephan Hicks and Stephen Maxwell scored 19 points each and Josh Greene added 17 for the Matadors, who compete in the Big West Conference.
South Dakota made its first eight shots of the game and its first seven 3-pointers while jumping out to a 39-22 lead. The Coyotes shot 62 percent in the first half (18 of 29) and led 45-33 at halftime. Bos and Norris combined to score 19 first-half points on 8 of 13 shots.
Northridge changed to a zone defense in the second half and opened the stanza with a 20-4 run that gave the Matadors a 53-49 edge. Hicks, Maxwell and Greene scored all but two points during the rally. Northridge made eight of its first nine shots of the second half.
Hicks drilled a 3 with 3:42 remaining that gave Northridge its largest lead of the game at 71-63. Hicks had 11 points in the second half. Northridge made 5 of 12 from behind the arc and shot 43 percent from the field for the game.
Norris immediately answered with a three and Gruis made it 71-68 with a jumper in the paint. Gruis blocked a career-high five shots and led USD with seven boards.
Northridge center Tre Hale-Edmerson tipped in his own miss to extend the lead to 73-68 with 2:15 remaining. The Matadors converted 12 offensive rebounds into 13 points in the second half. The Coyotes were outrebounded 23-11 in the second half and 33-28 for the game.
Gruis drew Hale-Edmerson’s fifth foul on the ensuing possession and converted a three-point play to close to 73-71 with two minutes left. Hale-Edmerson had eight points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.
Maxwell’s layup with 1:42 to go was Northridge’s final points. Norris hit a three moments later to bring the Coyotes within one at 75-74.
South Dakota was forced to foul Greene with 25 seconds left and Greene missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Norris took the ball from Karim Rowson, brought it across half court and penetrated into the lane before being fouled by Maxwell. Norris made both ends of a 1-and-1 to give USD a 76-75 lead.
Following a Northridge timeout, Aaron Parks missed a jumper in the lane with four seconds left and the rebound was tipped out to Landon Drew near the top of the key. Drew’s desperation 3 was blocked by Tyler Flack as time expired.
The Coyotes return to the court Saturday for a 4:15 p.m. tip against Iowa Wesleyan. That game will follow the USD women, who host Cleveland State at 2 p.m.