Mack Johnson Leads Cougars Past Saints

USF Wins Home Opener against Presentation

The University of Sioux Falls Men’s Basketball Team (1-2) again showcased an explosive offense but matched it with solid defense in an 87-56 win over Presentation College on Tuesday night at the Stewart Center.

The Cougars, which ranked second in the NSIC in scoring offense, matched their offensive output (86.0 ppg) with 87 points but limited PC to 27.4 percent from the field (18-of-66), recorded five blocked shots, and won the rebound battle, 57-30 in picking up their initial win of the season. So far, USF has scored 80 points all three games with totals of 94, 80 and 87.

Leading the way for the Cougars was senior guard Mack Johnson, who had 18 points and six rebounds. Johnson hit 4-of-8 from three point range as the Cougars were 10-of-27 for the game. For Johnson, he moved into third place all-time at USF with 188 three-pointers.

For the second time in three games, USF connected on better than 50 percent from the field (34-of-67, 50.7 percent). After a somewhat sluggish shooting first half (41 percent), the Cougars turned up the heat by hitting 60 percent in the second half as they ran away from the Saints.

In total, USF had four players in double digits as senior forward Daniel Hurtt had 14 points and six rebounds, senior Clint Thomas had his first career double of 13 points and 10 rebounds and Drew Guebert had 11 points and four rebounds with three assists. Thomas hit 5-of-10 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range as he has made 10-of-15 from distance this season.

Starting point guard Zach Wessels had seven points, five assists and four rebounds in a solid all-around game. He also limited PC’s leading scorer Donnell Minton to just seven points on 1-of-14 shooting. PC, which hit just 7-of-26 from three point range, was led in scoring by Quentin Canty with 15 points.

“We had a solid game out of the blocks on defense,” said USF head coach Chris Johnson. “We had a great flow early and later we got it rolling again. I felt that Zach (Wessels) had a really solid game for us and Mack (Johnson) found the range as did several others. I felt like we had a pretty good all-around effort,” he said.

True enough. The Cougars jumped out quickly, grabbing a 14-0 lead at the 12:09 mark of the first half after Thomas knocked down a three-pointer. PC righted their ship a bit and fought back with eight straight points to cut the lead to 14-8 at the 9:38 mark. USF had the answer with a 10-3 run to take a 24-11 lead at the 7:10 mark when M. Johnson converted a jumper. A three pointer by Johnson with 5:40 to play increased USF’s lead to 30-15. A late three-pointer by Brad Branch, who scored 12 points on the night, with 41 seconds left pulled the Saints within 35-24 at the halftime break.

In the opening half, USF was 13-of-32 from the field for 40.6 percent, including 4-of-11 from three-point range. M. Johnson had 13 points to lead the way for USF. PC was just 7-of-32 from the floor in the opening stanza for 21.9 percent. They were 3-of-12 from three point range and outrebounded, 29-18 by USF.

In the second half, USF significantly improved their shooting touch, hitting 21-of-35 shots for 60 percent. They were 6-of-16 from three-point range. With their shooting back online, the Cougars pushed the lead to 50-34 at the 15:35 mark after a lay-up by Guebert. Later, M. Johnson hit from deep as did Guebert as the Cougars built a 56-35 advantage with 13:44 to play.

After PC cut the lead to 56-40 (12:36), the Cougars had another run, keyed by a pair of three-pointers by Thomas as his second trey pushed USF to a 66-40 lead with 9:30 to play.

USF eventually pushed the lead to 32 points after freshman forward Tristan Teichmeier, who had six points, made a pair of free throws with 3:26 left. Devin Green, also a freshman forward, had five points, seven rebounds, and two assists and closed out the scoring on a jumper with 20 seconds to go.

Next for USF will be a home game against Concordia-Wisconsin at 8 p.m., on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Stewart Center.