USF Women Roll Past SMSU For Fourth Straight Win
Coo Are 9-1 After 63-47 Victory
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Sparked by defense and balanced scoring, the University of Sioux Falls Women’s Basketball Team (9-1, 5-1 NSIC) ended a three-game home stand and moved into a tie in the NSIC South Division with a 63-47 win over Southwest Minnesota State (1-9, 1-5 NSIC) at the Stewart Center to conclude their pre-Christmas schedule.
The victory was USF’s fourth straight and pulled them into a first place tie in the NSIC South at 5-1 with Winona State and Augustana. In addition, the Cougars defeated SMSU for the eighth straight time.
After being tied at 24 at halftime, USF was fueled by a 21-9 advantage in the third quarter as the Cougars recorded their seventh straight home win, including three straight in league play. The story of the game for USF was its defense, which tied a season-high with 18 steals, forcing SMSU into 26 turnovers which resulted in a 23-14 margin in points off turnovers. The Cougars also had seven blocks and held SMSU to 32.6 percent from the floor on 15-of-46 shooting.
Senior guard Alyson Johnsen had 12 points, a career-high and program D2-best nine steals and a block to lead USF to their ninth win in 10 games. Johnsen, who hit 2-of-3 from three-point range, set a USF DII record with the nine steals, bettering the mark of Marie Malloy, who had seven against Wayne State on Jan. 25, 2014.
In total USF’s balanced attack featured six players with at least seven points. Jacey Huinker had nine points, six rebounds and four assists while senior Sam Knecht, the reigning NSIC Player of the Week, added nine points and eight rebounds with four blocks. Knecht, who had nine total blocks as USF swept the season series from SMSU, recorded four blocks in a game for the seventh time in her career.
Also for USF, Kaely Hummel, Brooke Smith and Moira Duffy all scored seven points. For Duffy, it was her career-high as she made 3-of-3 from the field.
Overall, USF hit 25-of-62 shots from the field for 40.3 percent. After missing their first six three-point shots, USF finished 7-of-20 for 35 percent. They were just 6-of-13 from the foul line. SMSU, which had a 39-33 advantage in rebounds, hit 13-of-16 from the free throw line for 81.3 percent. Lauren Hedlund had a double of 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead SMSU, which also had 14 points and eight rebounds from Taylor Holicky.
While the Cougars lost the rebound battle for just the third time this season, they had 12 offensive boards, which contributed to a 34-20 advantage in points in the paint.
SMSU jumped to a 3-0 lead at the 7:41 mark on a basket by Hedlund. But USF’s Johnsen had consecutive baskets with a steal and lay-up at the 7:11 mark for a 4-3 USF lead. Three straight points by Duffy drew the Cougars within 8-7 with 4:42 to play in the quarter. At the 4:11 mark, Hedlund worked inside and converted a three-point play as SMSU built an 11-7 lead. Smith, off an assist from Mariah Syzmanski, tied the game at 11-11 with 2:58 to play. A basket by Huinker pulled USF within one of SMSU at 14-13 after the first quarter. In the quarter, USF was 6-of-17 from the floor and missed all four of its three point attempts. SMSU was 5-of-14 for 36 percent, including 2-of-5 from three point range.
In the second quarter, USF freshman Andi Mataloni hit a trey to tie the game and moments later, Smith stole the ball and converted a layup for an 18-16 lead, which forced an SMSU timeout (6:46). It was USF’s first lead in over 10 minutes. From that point, SMSU took off on an 8-0 run to take a 24-18 lead with 4:22 to play following a basket by Hedlund.
USF answered, closing the half on a 6-0 run with Knecht’s only point of the half drawing the Cougars into a tie at 24 with 1:47 to play. Through two quarters, Hedlund led all scorers with nine points for SMSU, which hit 9-of-24 from the field for 37.5 percent. USF, led by seven points from Smith, hit 10-of-33 from the field for 30.3 percent. USF was just 2-of-9 from three-point range while SMSU made 3-of-8.
In the third quarter, the Cougars asserted themselves, using a 21-9 advantage to take a 45-33 lead over SMSU. Right out of the halftime break, USF continued a late first-half run, extending it to 11-0 after Hummel hit a three-pointer and converted a drive for a 29-24 lead at the 7:12 mark.
Later, Knecht converted a layup (5:48), and Duffy had a pair of baskets as she reached her career high (seven points) to give the Cougars a 40-27 lead at the 3:47 mark. After SMSU scored four straight points, Robson found Knecht underneath, who made a lay-up for a 42-31 lead at the 2:14 mark. With 29 seconds left in the quarter, Johnsen knocked down a three for a 45-31 lead.
With a 7-2 run to open the fourth quarter, SMSU cut USF’s lead to 47-40 but could draw no closer. Knecht scored inside with six minutes to play, followed by threes from Johnsen and Mariah Syzmanski for a 55-42 lead with 4:33 left to play. At the 2:52 mark, off an assist by Robson, Huinker converted a break opportunity for a 59-44 lead and another home win.
USF will be idle until reopening league play at Wayne State at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30.