Houston Baptist takes inaugural Great West title
Orem, UT (Sports Network) - Jake Thomas scored 24 points and South Dakota earned a postseason trip with a 91-86 victory over Houston Baptist in the championship game of the inaugural Great West Conference Tournament.
Kendall Cutler added 21 points and eight assists for the top-seeded Coyotes (23-9), who won their 13th straight game. They received an automatic bid to the Collegeinsider.com Tournament.
Steve Smith finished with 14 points, Louie Krogman 13 and Roman Gentry 10 for South Dakota. Krogman had the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:54 left in the game.
"We played really well for a lot of that game and then they just came at us and were making shots," said South Dakota coach Dave Boots. "Our defense wasn't very good. We gave up a good lead, but then again our guys came back and made clutch shots."
Mario Flaherty had 23 points and 17 rebounds for Houston Baptist (12-22), which also received 20 points apiece from Andrew Gonzalez and Wendell Preadom.
"I'm very proud of our team and the way they fought the whole game," said HBU coach Ron Cottrell. "I'm especially proud of our seniors, Mario and Wendell, and the way they led this team all season."
Gonzalez tied the game with a layup, but Krogman's long-distance shot moved the Coyotes to an 85-82 edge. A turnover from Shawn Echols led to a Krogman layup for a five-point edge with 1:13 remaining.
Flaherty hit a pair of free throws with 46 seconds left for an 87-84 margin, but Smith and Thomas each hit two foul shots down the stretch to seal the win for the Coyotes.
The Huskies trailed by a 25-15 count following a Gentry three-ball with 11:13 left in the opening half. South Dakota was ahead by as many as 17 before holding on to a 46-31 advantage at intermission.
Houston Baptist finally whittled the deficit to single digits at 52-43 inside 17 minutes left on a Preadom three-pointer. HBU later scored 12 in a row to get within 80-78.
Tyler Cain had 11 rebounds for South Dakota, which shot 47.5 percent from the field...South Dakota went 10-of-19 from beyond the arc, including 5-of-7 from Thomas...The Coyotes went 25-of-30 at the foul line.
03/14 01:18:55 ET