Men’s basketball: Roos dominant first half helps them cruise past South Dakota

Josiah Allick (#20) attempts a shot inside the paint while Sam Martin (#21) and Evan Gilyard II (#1) wait on the perimeter. (Julia Kapros/Roo News)

Cristian Martinez

In front of a rowdy crowd last Thursday, a composed Kansas City Roos team bested South Dakota 72-63.

Graduate guard Evan Gilyard II dominated the Coyotes defense in an impressive first half. With his step-back jumpers and ability to weave around defenders inside the paint, Gilyard was second in points during the first half (11). Gilyard’s shots played a tremendous role in the biggest offensive turning point for the Roos.

During the eight-minute mark in the first, Kansas City had a 25-9 lead after junior forward Josiah Allick nailed a hook shot. After South Dakota missed a couple of baskets, Allick rebounded the ball and found a wide-open Gilyard across the court. With his signature confidence, he drilled a rainbow three to increase the Roos’ lead.

Then, South Dakota missed another basket. Gilyard took the opportunity to continue his one-man campaign and reeled in a rebound. Fans watched in awe as he shook his defender off and made a shot from downtown to extend the lead 31-9. 

During this 31-9 run, Allick also played a big factor in the Roos lead. He manhandled the Coyotes on defense and nabbed multiple rebounds to kill South Dakota’s momentum on offense. Even as he pressed his opponents, his contribution on offense during the key run was essential for Kansas City. He scored 10 of his 18 total points in those 11 minutes. 

Once the clock hit zero in the first half, the Roos found themselves in a comfortable 39-22 lead. However, Kansas City prematurely entered a relaxed state going into the second half. South Dakota would take advantage of that opportunity.

In just 13 minutes, the Coyotes scored 31 points to the Roos 19. South Dakota succeeded in this timespan by isolating Kansas City’s defense on the perimeter, connecting on four shots beyond the arc. 

On top of that, South Dakota benefited from Allick and Gilyard’s inability to produce after the first half. Allick only had two points, and Gilyard cooled off to become third in scoring during the Roos’ second-half slump. 

“We should be better with not relaxing so much,” Gilyard said after the game. “We just gotta keep a foot on their neck the whole game and not let up at all.”

Allick said that basketball is a game of momentum, with ups and downs from both teams. 

“You’re not always gonna be able to dominate everybody for 40 minutes,” Allick said.

Even when South Dakota kept the powerful duo in check, two players picked up the pace for the rest of the game.

Senior forward Marvin Nesbitt Jr. and graduate forward Arkel Lamar started off slow early in the game (combined for seven points). The pair both boosted their play when the Roos needed it most, combining for 20 points to maintain Kansas City’s lead throughout. They also smothered South Dakota’s offense in the end, allowing only two Coyotes’ scores during the final minutes. 

Lamar ended the game with 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and a block. Meanwhile, Nesbitt contributed with 14 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

Josiah Allick (left) and Evan Gilyard II (right) answered questions during the post-game conference. (Julia Kapros/Roo News)

Kansas City ended their regular season with a 86-75 defeat to South Dakota State. The Roos will now travel to Sioux Falls for the Summit League Tournament as the fourth seed. The team will face South Dakota as their opening opponent on March 6 at 6 p.m.

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