Bulldogs Sweep Coo

USF Basketball Swept In Doubleheader

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WOMEN

A second half rally by the The University of Sioux Falls women’s basketball team (13-6, 9-6 NSIC) fell just short in a 70-65 loss to Minnesota-Duluth (10-9, 8-7 NSIC) at the Stewart Center on Friday night.

The Cougars, which placed three players in double digits, lost for the third straight game but not before rallying from a double digit deficit to tie the game in the final minutes. Down 36-22 at halftime, the Cougars tied the game on a basket by Alyson Johnsen with 2:43 to play. However, the Bulldogs, which received 19 points and 20 rebounds from Taylor Meyer, finished the game on a 7-2 run to take the win.

For the third straight game, USF trailed by double digits in the second half before rallying and just falling short at the end. They have lost all three games by six points or less.

“I think we came out a little flat but give credit to Minnesota-Duluth, they played well,” said USF head women’s basketball coach Travis Traphagen. “We have to figure out a way to get going. We didn’t shoot free throws very well and had too many turnovers. Still, we battled to the end and that is a bright spot and what this team is all about. Now, we just have to bounce back tomorrow,” he said.

The Cougars were led by a double double from sophomore center Sam Knecht, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds, including seven off the offensive glass. She also set a career-high with six blocks shots. Senior Jaicee Ulmer had 11 points and five rebounds while Taylor Varsho had 10 points, before fouling out. The junior guard has had double digit points for the second straight game and the 14th time this season. USF also lost starting point guard Marie Malloy to fouls after she had eight points and a career-high seven assists.

The Cougars hit just 7-of-17 from the free throw line for 35.3 percent and made 26-of-65 field goals for 40 percent. From three-point range, they connected on 6-of-17 for 35.3 percent. At times, the Cougars defense was solid as 10 blocks, including six from Knecht, attest, but 16 turnovers and losing the rebound battle, 52-42, hurt their chances to pick up a win. Also contributing to the loss was UMD’s 21-to-7 edge in made free throws.

While the Bulldogs hit just 22-of-68 shots for 32.4 percent from the field, the free throws were vastly important.

USF grabbed the first lead of the game on a three-pointer from Varsho at the 18:35 mark. Then, the Cougars couldn’t find any offense as UMD ripped off eight straight points for an 8-3 lead after a basket from Jessica Newman.

After a scoring drought of nearly five minutes, Ulmer pulled USF within 8-5 at the 15:24 mark. UMD built the lead to 14-8 before Alyson Johnsen, who had seven points and two rebounds, hit a three-pointer with 12:30 to play and Malloy scored off a fast-break layup to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-13 with 12 minutes to play. But then UMD took control of the half. Over the final 12 minutes of the half, USF was outscored 22-to-9 as UMD took a 36-22 lead to break.

The Cougars, which failed to score over the final 3:08 of the half, hit only 29 percent from the floor on 9-of-31 shooting in the open stanza. Adding to their woes was a 0-5 performance from the foul line. Meanwhile, UMD hit 13-of-30 from the floor for 43.3 percent and 8-of-10 from the foul line.

Featuring pressure defense, the Cougars started the second half with an 8-0 run to cut UMD’s lead to 36-30 with 17:13 to play in the game. A three-pointer from Ulmer drew the Cougars within 39-35 with 15:43 to go. Two minutes later a three-pointer from Ulmer cut the Cougars’ deficit to 39-35.

UMD responded by going on a 15-to-8 run to take an 11-point lead with 10:41 to play. Once again, the Cougars were resilient and fought their way back into the game. Using a 14-5 run, USF pulled within 59-57 with 6:11 left in the game.

Once again, UMD fought off the charge, holding a 63-58 lead with five minutes to go. But the Cougars had a 5-0 run, capped by Johnsen’s driving basket with 2:43 to play to tie the game at 63. UMD had baskets on consecutive possessions and held off USF to take the win.

USF will look to rebound when they face St. Cloud State on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Stewart Center.

MEN

Despite building a 16-point second half, the USF men dropped their seventh straight game, losing to UM-Duluth 74-70.

Mack Johnson led the Cougars with 20 points and Jordan Stotts added 17.  Duluth’s Brendon Pineda led all scorers with 21.

The Cougars host St. Cloud State tomorrow at 6 PM.