November 17, 2008

Despite Slow Second Half, Red Holds on for the Win

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The banner celebration of the men’s Ivy League championship didn’t last too long. The Red got down to business Friday night, beating new Division I team South Dakota, 79-69, Friday night. With the Red’s typical backcourt sidelined with injuries, junior Ryan Wittman tied a career-high, scoring 25 points and pacing the Red in a double-digit win.
“Any time you take the player of the year off a team it’s going to hurt,” Wittman said of Ivy League Player of the Year Louis Dale, who sat with a hamstring injury. “But a lot of different people stepped up. Geoff Reeves, Chris [Wroblewski] stepped in late in the game. We all made plays.”
[img_assist|nid=33662|title=The Foote|desc=Senior forward Jeff Foote (1) attempts one of his three total baskets during the Red’s 79-69 win on Nov. 14 against South Dakota.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red didn’t have a dominating offensive performance in its debut, suiting up without some of its top scorers — Dale and senior Adam Gore — and facing a difficult matchup zone defense. Still, the team managed to win in front of a loud 3,679 fans in attendance.
The Red couldn’t sit back and celebrate last year’s accomplishments, though, as the team had to fight off a tough effort from the Coyotes. Seven times in the final 12 minutes, South Dakota cut the lead to single digits, and each time the Red fought back, pushing the lead back past 10. Despite Wittman only going 2-for-7 from 3-point range and facing a new defense, the team still had a good shooting performance overall.
“They played a matchup zone,” Donahue said. “It’s the first game of the year, and we’re getting a matchup zone. So even though it’s not going to work pretty, they’re going to make you make plays. You’re going to have to be creative. … We were still 2-to-1 on assists to turnovers and we shot 48 percent and we were 8-for-18 on 3s. I thought we did a lot of good things on offense.”
The Red took advantage of the newly extended 3-point line, holding the Coyotes to 35 percent from downtown. Louie Krogman paced South Dakota with 20 points with five rebounds and three assists, while Dylan Grimsley had double-double with 18 points and nine boards. The team’s star guard Jesse Becker was injured during pregame warm-ups and was limited to just eight minutes.
South Dakota scored the first point in Newman Arena this year when Grimsley scored on a layup with 18 seconds on the clock. Wittman responded with a 3-pointer and the team would lead from then on. The Red went up 40-27 with just over two minutes to play following a 7-0 run capped by a Wittman steal and finish on the break. The Coyotes, as they did all game, responded, making it a 12-point deficit as Krogman hit a 3-pointer going into the half.
“I thought [Krogman] was terrific,” Wittman said. “We saw him a little bit on the AAU circuit and thought he was a good player. Now that people know him a little bit, he’s going to have to earn his shots more. I thought we did a good job in the second half forcing him to take some things.”
The Red used the help of many scorers to keep control in the second half despite small comebacks from South Dakota. Reeves stood out with a career-high 21 points, hitting 5-of-8 3-pointers. Classmate Alex Tyler had eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds, while senior Jeff Foote posted six points, five rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots.