Brooke Smith Keeps Cougars Rolling

Game-High 22 Points Helps Extend USF Win Streak To Six

SIOUX FALLS – Led by the duo of Brooke Smith and Sam Knecht, the University of Sioux Falls Women’s Basketball Team (15-2, 11-2 NSIC, 1st) recorded a sixth consecutive win with a 84-72 decision over Minnesota State (9-8, 5-8 NSIC) at the Stewart Center on Friday night.

Smith scored 22 points, cracking 20 points for the second time this year. Meanwhile reigning NSIC South Division Player of the Week Sam Knecht flirted with a triple double, putting up 12 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high eight rebounds.

USF, which is off to its best start in the DII era and received votes in the most recent WBCA Top-25 Poll, moved to 11-2 in the NSIC and retained a hold on first place. Overall, USF is now 15-2 and has a 10-0 record at home.

The Cougars led 22-17 after the first quarter and built a 37-34 advantage at halftime. USF again held an advantage in the third quarter, 24-21, to lead 61-55. Then, USF outscored the Mavericks, 23-17, to take the game and build a 5-4 all-time series margin.

“I am really proud the way this team continues to work hard and finish games,” said USF head women’s basketball coach Travis Traphagen. “Brooke (Smith) and Sam (Knecht) had big games but so did everyone who played for us tonight. It was great to see the team continue to put the effort into playing both ends,” he said.

Smith came off the bench to lead USF in scoring as she hit 9-of-15 shots from the field, including 1-of-3 from three point range. She had eight rebounds, four assists and three steals in 27 minutes of action. As for Knecht, she hit 6-of-8 shots from the floor, had 12 defensive rebounds among her 13 board and was a defensive presence all night with her eight blocks.

In total, the Cougars had four players who reached double figures in scoring with freshman Kaely Hummel adding 17 on 6-of-11 field goals. She was 3-of-6 from three point range. Senior point guard Madi Robson added 15 points, four assists, four rebounds and a blocked shot.

USF recorded its highest point total of the season, hitting 29-of-61 field goals for 47.5 percent, including 9-of-24 from three point range. The Cougars, which made 17-of-20 free throws (78.6 percent), had nine three pointers in a game for the fifth time this season. In addition to an offensive surge, the Cougars were solid defensively, holding MSU to 35.3 percent from the floor (24-of-68).

The Mavericks, which were led in scoring by Britney Scherber with 19 points, made 8-of-21 from three point range and 16-of-21 from the foul line. Also, led by Knecht, USF held a 42-39 rebound held and had a 31-24 advantage in bench points.

The Mavericks opened quickly against USF, racing to a 9-6 lead after four minutes of play in the opening quarter. A three-pointer by Alyson Johnsen started a 13-0 run by USF which ended with an Andi Mataloni three pointer for a 19-9 lead with 1:58 to play in the quarter.  MSU answered with eight straight points to close within 19-17 (:36) but Robson knocked in a three-pointer for a 22-17 lead at the quarter break.

The Cougars built on Robson’s basket with an 8-0 run in the second quarter, pushing its lead to 30-19 with 6:57 to play. At the 2:49 mark, a lay-up by Smith, who had 11 points to lead USF in the opening half, pushed the lead to 37-24. However, MSU had another late quarter run, ripping off 10 straight points to close the half down just 37-34.

In the opening half, USF hit 13-of-33 shots for 39.4 percent, including 7-of-17 from three point range. Meanwhile MSU was 12-of-35 for 34.3 percent and hit 5-of-13 from three point range. Both teams had 22 rebounds and neither team had an issue with turnovers. Knecht, who had four points and five rebounds blocked four shots.

USF quickly asserted control in the third quarter with baskets from Jacey Huinker and Smith pushed the advantage to 43-35 (6:47). Later, Knecht scored on a jumper which was followed by a lay-up from Hummel for a 57-44 margin (2:40).  While USF held control of the game, MSU made another late rally to close within 61-55 after a lay-up by Taylor Klug.

As was the pattern all night, USF came out on fire at the start of the quarter as a jumper from Smith pushed the lead back to 12 points (69-57, 6:34). A lay-up from Hummel enabled the Cougars to take a 71-58 advantage with 4:58 to play.

While MSU closed to within eight points (74-66, 1:49, 4th) on a three from Sammie Delzotto, the Cougars finished off their scoring with Robson knocking in 3-of-4 free throws in the final 30 seconds.

Next for USF will be another home game as they host Concordia-St. Paul at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the Stewart Center.

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