The University of Sioux Falls Women's Basketball Team (1-0), the defending NSIC Tourney champions, successfully opened the 2016-17 season with a 74-57 victory over Presentation College (0-4) at the Stewart Center.
Led by three players in double digits, including a double double (16 points and 13 rebounds) from senior center Sam Knecht, the Cougars rallied from a first quarter deficit to lead at halftime and outscore PC, 38-27 in the second half. Knecht, who was 8-of-17 from the floor, had 10 rebounds by halftime and added a pair of blocks and a steal.
Senior Brooke Smith supplied 14 points, four rebounds and a game-high six steals as she was a defensive whiz throughout the game.
USF also had 14 points from freshman Kaely Hummel, who was 5-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-6 from three point range. Senior point guard Madi Robson played a steady floor game, adding nine points, including 2-of-5 from three point range, and a game-high seven assists.
For the night, USF was 30-of-82 from the floor for 36.6 percent and just 7-of-27 from three point range for 25.9 percent. USF, which was 7-of-14 from the foul line, edged PC on the boards, 46-45. However the big key was USF's defense which forced 21 turnovers and registered nine steals, led by Smith.
For PC, Macy Toelle had 19 points, including 5-of-8 shots from three-point range. Cora Lopez supplied 15 points and seven rebounds. As a squad, PC was 21-of-58 from the floor, including 8-of-18 from three-point range. They converted 7-of-12 from the foul line.
In its home opener, the Cougars started slow with several misses from point blank range. Meanwhile the Saints opened up a quick 8-3 lead after a lay-up by Lopez. Later, Toelle, who had 12 points in the first half on four-of-six shooting from three-point range, knocked down a three for a 13-7 lead at the 4:47 of the first quarter. A lay-up by Jacey Huinker closed the gap to 15-12 at the end of the first quarter.
PC jumped out quickly in the opening minutes of the second quarter with five straight points, including a Toelle three-pointer, for a 20-12 advantage with 9:19 to play. USF responded with a 19-5 run after a three-pointer by Robson and a pair of free throws by Smith for a 31-25 edge with 3:37 to go. The Cougars eventually extended the lead to 36-28 on a three-point play from Hummel with 40 seconds to go in the quarter. Sydney Larson hit a jumper with 21 seconds to play as PC reduced the lead to 36-30 at the halftime break.
In the first half, USF was just 14-of-40 from the field for 35 percent, including 3-of-12 from three-point range. The Cougars also struggled at the foul line with just 5-of-11 makes. USF, which had a 25-23 edge in rebounds, forced PC into nine turnovers. Smith, who had four steals, led the team with seven points while Robson and Hummel contributed six. PC, which was 12-of-32 from the floor, was led by Toelle with 12 points and Lopez with six. A key for the Saints was its success from three-point range, hitting on 6-of-11 shots.
After a slow start to start the game, USF jumped out quickly in the third quarter. The Cougars reeled off nine straight points with a layup from Knecht building a 45-30 lead with 7:13 to play. But PC continued to hang around as a free throw by Lopez kept PC within 47-37 at the four minute mark of the third quarter. USF again had the answer with a quarter closing 9-2 run for a 57-39 lead after Robson connected on her second three point shot of the night.
Early in the fourth quarter, a lay-up from Knecht pushed the lead to 59-39 at the 9:14 mark. The Saints cut the lead to 14 (64-50) with 4:50 to play on two free throws by Toelle but couldn't get any closer. The Cougars responded with a seven-point run, including a three-point play from Smith for a 71-50 lead at the 3:33 mark.
Next for the USF Women's Basketball Team will be a pair of game this weekend in their own tournament at the Stewart Center. They will face South Dakota School of Mines at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18 and William Jewell at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19.