Cougars End Skid & Beat Huskies

USF Women Defeat St. Cloud State

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A 13-0 run late in the first half, keyed by junior guard Taylor Varsho’s second double double of the season, lifted the University of Sioux Falls women’s basketball team to a 71-48 win over St. Cloud State before 897 fans at the Stewart Center Saturday afternoon.

With snow falling outside on a cold Saturday, the Cougars warmed up the fans in attendance with one of the best first-half displays of the season. Varsho had a trio of three-pointers during the 13-0 run and finished with 17 in the first half as USF built a 20-point lead before taking a 41-23 advantage into halftime.

After the break, the Cougars used its inside game and tough defense to hold SCSU at bay in snapping a three-game slide. The win improved USF to 14-5 on the season, including 10-6 in the NSIC South. SCSU dropped to 12-8 and 8-8 in league play.

“We bounced back from the loss to Minnesota-Duluth. I thought we played with more urgency and discipline,” said USF’s seventh year head coach Travis Traphagen.

“Except for a five-minute stretch in the second half, we controlled the game. It was a nice win and something we can build on,” said Traphagen.

Aside from her 17 points, which included 5-of-10 from three-point range, Varsho, just a 5-7 guard, had a career-high with 16 rebounds – 15 of them on the defense boards. She also had three assists in 33 minutes of work.

Sophomore center Sam Knecht joined her in double figures with 10 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Jaicee Ulmer added nine points while senior Amber Paden had eight points and five rebounds. Sophomore forward Alison Klostergaard added a spark off the bench with seven points and seven rebounds.

Overall, the Cougars hit 26-fo-67 from the floor for 38.8 percent and hit 9-of-29 from 3-point range. USF was 10-of-16 from the foul line while owning the boards to the tune of a 53-42 advantage.

As for the Huskies, they had problems dealing with a USF defense that pressured the ball all over the floor. SCSU hit just 27.1 percent from the floor on 19-of-70 shooting.

The Huskies were 4-of-20 from 3-point range and 6-of-12 from the foul line.
From the outset, the Cougars came out firing. Three-point baskets from Ulmer and Varsho to open the game provided the impetus for an 8-2 USF lead just two minutes into the game.

SCSU answered the quick start by USF with an 8-0 run for a 10-8 lead with 14:54 to play. After Marie Malloy had a free throw to end a 4:29 scoring drought, the Cougars found their offense. Varsho, who had eight points and six rebounds in opening 13 minutes, gave Cougars 20-16 lead with three-pointer at the 7:40 mark.

Ahead 28-21, USF took off on a 13-0 run as Varsho had a trio of triples and freshman guard Paige Mriden also connected from deep for a 39-21 lead with 2:38 to play.

Varsho nearly had a double by halftime with 17 points and nine rebounds. She hit 5-of-9 from 3-point range as USF was 7-of-19 overall. USF, which knocked in six of final nine shots of half, finished at 41.7 percent on 15-of-36 shooting. SCSU shot 28.1 percent from the floor on 9-of-32 shooting but were just 2-of-10 from distance. Chelsea Nooker led SCSU with 13 points, eight rebounds and four stea.s

In the second half, USF continued to find success on the offensive end, but instead of doing it from distance, they found openings inside and converted at the foul line. Two baskets from Knecht and three free throws from Malloy provided USF with a 48-27 lead with 17 minutes to play.

After Klostergaard scoring on a layup with 10:27 to play, the issue was decided except for the final outcome. SCSU rallied with 11 straight points but that still left them down by 19 at 65-46 with 6:22 to play. When Haydn Becker hit a three with 2:33 to go, the lead was back to 23 and USF ended a run of three games lost by six points or less.

Next for USF will be a four-game road trip that starts on Feb. 6-7 at Minnesota-Crookston and Bemidji State.