Cougar Men Fall To Emporia In Opener

USF Falls 101-94

The University of Sioux Falls Men’s Basketball Team (0-1) had offense aplenty but still dropped a 101-94 shootout against Emporia State (1-0) in the first round of the MIAA-NSIC Challenge at the Stewart Center before 1,110 in attendance.

In the tournament, hosted by USF, the Cougars will next play Fort Hays State, which lost to Southwest Minnesota State, 84-60 in the first game of the MIAA-NSIC Challenge. USF and FHSU will play at 5 p.m., following the matchup between SMSU and Emporia State at 3 p.m. at the Stewart Center.

Against Emporia State, the Cougars hit 56 percent from the floor on 28-of-50 shooting, including 10-of-20 from three-point range. But the Hornets were just a little better, at least in total baskets made. ESU hit 34-of-61 from the floor for 55.7 percent, including 8-of-17 from three-point range. The major difference, as noted by USF head coach Chris Johnson, in the game was USF’s turnover issues with 17 to just 10 for ESU.

“We allowed them to dictate the action tonight and just had too many turnovers,” said the Cougars’ ninth-year head coach Chris Johnson. “We just didn’t sustain our runs tonight. We have some work to do defensively. But we had some good moments tonight. We just have to be better,” he said.

USF was led by sophomore forward Drew Guebert, who scored a career-high 30 points as he made 8-of-15 shots from the floor. Guebert made 4-of-6 from three-point range and 10-of-14 from the foul line. He also had five rebounds and three assists along with a block.

Senior guard Mack Johnson, who was named All-NSIC First Team a year ago, had 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting, hitting 2-of-6 from three-point range. Johnson, who had his 17th career 20-point outing, pushed his career total to 1,220 points, which is 17th on USF’s all-time list. Among those points is 184 3’s, which ranks fourth all-time at USF. In addition, Clint Thomas, who hit 4-of-5 from three point range, had 16 points and five rebounds for USF, which won the rebound battlte, 32-28.

The Hornets were led in scoring by Brandon Hall, who had 23 points, including 10-of-18 from the floor. Brian Morton added 18 with Jay Temaat, who made 4-of-5 from distance, supplying 16.

After ESU took an early 4-0 lead, the Cougars caught fire, led by Guebert, to rally back into the lead. When Guebert hit a three at the 13:51 mark, USF led 13-6. After USF took a 19-12 advantage at the 11:06 mark on a Thomas three-pointer, ESU took off on a run and into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

While the Cougars went into a four-minute scoreless scretch, ESU scored 13 unanswered points with Hall’s jumper building a 25-19 lead at the 8:07 mark of the first half. Two free throws by Johnson ended the run (25-21, 7:08) but the Hornets wouldn’t give up control. With 2:54 left in the half, Temaat hit a three-pointer for a 38-31 lead. The Cougars rallied but couldn’t sustain any runs as they drew within four at 43-39 with 39 seconds to play. Hall’s three-pointer at the buzzer pushed the lead back to 48-40 at the break.

In the second half, ESU continued to hold the lead and extended the margin to 58-47 at the 17:13 mark after a three from Temaat, who had a number of timely shots for the visitors.

For much of the second half, USF trailed by 9-12 points but made a couple of runs at ESU. Johnson and Thomas hit back-to-back three pointers to cut the ESU margin to 77-71 with 8:08 to play. But Temaat answered with a three at the 7:30 mark to push the lead back to nine points (80-71).

With 3:33 to play, USF forward Daniel Hurtt, who had four points and five rebounds, hit two free throws to cut the lead to 88-84. But ESU’s Morton hit a three for a 91-84 advantage at the 3:17 mark. With 1:52 to go, Zach Wessels hit two free throws to keep USF within 91-87 but once again ESU had the answer as Hall’s layup with1:05 left built the lead back to 96-89. The Cougars cut the lead to six at 100-94 but ran out of time.