When Black Hills State University men's coach Jeff Trumbauer got through the handshake line, he let out a visible sigh of relief.
For a first time in a long time, the Yellow Jackets had swept their rival, and his team's five game losing streak was over.
BHSU held off South Dakota School of Mines 66-65 on a missed last-second shot Tuesday night at Goodell Gymnasium.
"We had five in a row on the road and we're a team that's trying to get into the playoffs for the first time in school history," he said. "To me it looked like two teams that had spent the last 10 days travelling about 2,000 miles. It wasn't the crispest game, but I'm proud of our guys. We played pretty well in the first half, but we missed so many layups and I think we overcame that in the second half."
After a 92-69 beatdown in Spearfish Jan. 16, the Yellow Jackets took the season series from the Hardrockers, but it was much more of a grind this time around.
BHSU started hot, jumping out to a 7-2 lead and making it 11-2 before the first media timeout. The young Mines team battled back, and missed layups did doom the Yellow Jackets as the half went on.
"I thought we were finishing kind of weak," Trumbauer said of his team's first half performance. "We had some great opportunities, but we weren't going at the rim, into the bodies and drawing contact."
Mines cut the lead to 20-15, and then tied the game with a Jake Heath 3-pointer with 5:02 remaining in the half.
Mines took its first lead with four minutes remaining in the half, and from there carried a 33-25 lead into the locker room after a half court 3-pointer from BHSU's Connor O'Hearn was called no-good because it came after the buzzer.
Mines coach Jason Henry said the performance of his team from the game in Spearfish to game Tuesday night was night and day, especially defensively.
"I thought we did a good job of keeping them in front and made them take tough shots," he said. "That was the difference because they were still 12-of-24 (from behind the 3-point line) and (Dez) Stoudamire still went off again. I don't know what the story is with him and us."
Stoudamire led the Yellow Jackets in scoring with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.
Mines held firm to its lead until there was 9:20 remaining, when BHSU took the lead back at 53-52.
Still, the Hardrockers refused to go away. They took the lead back at 56-53 with 7:48 remaining and the two teams traded the lead the rest of the way.
Tied at 62 with 1:15 remaining, BHSU took the lead when Makaleb McInnis hit two free throws with 48.1 seconds to go. Mines responded in a big way, as Jack Fiddler was fouled after completing a lay up with 40.1 seconds left. He hit the free throw, and the Hardrockers took the lead.
Another foul at the other end put Stoudamire at the line with 20.4 seconds left, and he hit both of them to give the Yellow Jackets the lead.
With just over three seconds to go, after a non-shooting foul, Mines ran a play under the basket where the shooter absorbed a lot of contact as he attempted the last second shot.
Although the Mines bench called for a foul, one was not called.
Henry said that he did think Mines, 7-16 overall, 4-14 RMAC, showed a lot despite the loss.
"Even last weekend I thought we grew up on the defensive end," he said, included the Hardrockers' 83-71 win over University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Friday. "We kind of lost focus a little bit, but we got it right back and that's something that throughout the year we kind of lose focus for four to eight minute stretches and tonight it was a couple of minutes here or there and I thought they really brought themselves back in."
Trumbauer said he was happy to get his team, 12-10 overall 9-9 RMAC, back in the winning column.
After losses Westminster, Colorado Mesa, Western State, Metro State-Denver and UCCS over the last two weekends, BHSU needed the win badly.
"You kind of wonder how long this was going to go on," he said. "We hadn't really played that bad. I thought we were playing reasonably well just not well enough to win on the road and you wonder how long it was going to go on. I thought we go great minutes out of Dez Stoudamire, and Makaleb McInnis played really well, Connor O'hearn. Those three guys played their best game in about five games."
In addition to Stoudamire's output, BHSU got 13 points from McInnis and 10 points from Wyatt Krogman. Mines was led in scoring by Fiddler who had 14 points, and also got 11 from Logan Elers.
BHSU hosts Colorado Christian Saturday while Mines hosts Colorado School of Mines.