GAME NOTES: The South Dakota Coyotes try to run their win streak to four in a row, as they tangle with the Air Force Falcons in non-conference play at Clune Arena on Thursday.
Since opening the season with three straight setbacks against the likes of St. Bonaventure, Canisius, and Wyoming, the Coyotes have turned around to balance the scale. On Monday night the team slipped by visiting Utah Valley in a 71-67 final in Vermillion.
As for the Falcons, who are in the midst of an eight-game homestand, they have been handed back-to-back defeats by Richmond (83-60) and Colorado (81-57) to drop to 3-4 on the campaign overall.
The Falcons have taken all five of the previous meetings between the programs, but this is the first encounter in a half-century. Air Force posted an 85-53 win in the last clash back on Dec, 11, 1963.
Inside the DakotaDome, the Coyotes outscored Utah Valley at the free-throw line by a 16-6 margin, more than enough for the hosts to overcome 3-of-13 shooting behind the 3-point line and capture the four-point win. Brandon Bos was responsible for 15 points, followed by Tyler Larson with 12 and five rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench. Tyler Flack added 10 points, while Trey Norris supplemented his mere six points with seven assists.
The leading scorer for South Dakota four times this season, Bos sits atop the list after six contests with his 14.0 ppg, shooting better from beyond the arc (.500) than he is the field overall (.468). Trevor Gruis checks in with another 10.7 ppg and is tops with 6.7 rpg, but the team as a whole is producing just 67.5 ppg, leaving the Coyotes behind the competition by two points per contest.
The Falcons fell behind against Colorado right out of the gate in the last game and never recovered, finishing with almost as many turnovers (18) as made field goals (19), while shooting only 6-of-22 from behind the 3-point line. Only two players made more than a pair of field goals, as Tre' Coggins produced a team-best 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting, while Marek Olesinski tacked on eight points thanks to 3-of-8 from the field.
Coggins has been the most productive offensive threat for the Falcons in the early going, posting 17.3 ppg, as he shoots a solid 48.9 percent from the field and 43.2 percent behind the 3-point line. Max Yon, another player hitting better than 40 percent beyond the arc, checks in with 12.4 ppg and is also first on the unit with 19 assists and 12 steals.
Playing at home should certainly give the Falcons a bit of a lift, but maybe not so much that they will be carried to victory without a fight.
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