Led by double doubles from seniors Sam Knecht and Madi Robson, the University of Sioux Falls Women's Basketball Team (4-0) rolled to a 70-46 victory over Dakota State on Tuesday night at the Stewart Center.
Knecht recorded a double for the third time in four games this season. On the night she had 16 points and 13 rebounds while adding five blocks and four steals in 26 minutes of work. She hit 7-of-12 field goals and two of four free throws. Of her 13 rebounds, she had four offensive boards.
Robson, USF's senior point guard, had a career first with a double in points with 11 and assists with 10. The 10 assists tied her career high that she set against Concordia-St. Paul on Feb. 20, 2016. Robson also recorded her second straight double digit points game and the fifth of her career.
USF opened up a 21-10 lead after the first quarter and with a 15-6 edge in the second quarter took a commanding 36-16 lead to halftime. A 14-4 run over the final 5:17 in the third quarter allowed USF to build a 58-32 lead at the break. From there USF cruised in for their fourth straight win to open the season. Over the past 37 games, USF has won 31. With four straight home wins this season, USF has also won 16 of their last 18 at the friendly confines of the Stewart Center.
"I like our start to the season. Our seniors, Sam (Knecht) and Madi (Robson), had solid efforts tonight and are showing great leadership for a young team. I also liked what Jacey (Huinker) and Brooke (Smith) did on defense and the boards," said USF head women's basketball coach Travis Traphagen. "I thought we had a decent performance defensively and had some good moments on offense. We are striving to get better game by game," he said.
In total, four USF players hit double digits as Brooke Smith had 11 points and six steals while Jacey Huinker had 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
The Cougars hit 29-of-71 from the floor for 40.8 percent, although just 3-of-12 from three-point range. At the foul line, USF hit 9-of-17 shots. USF, led by Robson, totaled 19 assists, while owning a 46-42 advantage on the boards. In addition, the Cougars had a season high 18 steals as Smith's six steals caused DSU issues. In fact the 18 steals were nearly the total for the first three games combined (22). The USF defense gave DSU fits as they hit just 18-of-57 field goals for 31.6 percent, including 0-7 from three-point range. However, the Trojans, which was led by BreeAna Olson's 13 points and eight rebounds, connected on 10-of-12 free throws.
Early in the first quarter, Huinker and Kaely Hummel had back-to-back inside baskets to give the Cougars a 10-4 lead. In moving out to the lead, USF was 5-of-8 from the floor while DSU started just 2-of-9 (22.2 percent). Later, Smith scored underneath to push the lead to 16-4. Robson finished the quarter on a flurry with a three-pointer (:41) and driving layup off the break (:11) as the Cougars took a 21-10 lead after the first quarter.
Smith's defense help create offense and her basket early in the second quarter enabled USF to take a 25-10 lead at the 8:15 mark. At the 4:42 mark, Knecht hit a baseline jumper from the right side as the Cougars took a 28-12 lead. With 2:25 to play, Smith reached double digits (11 points) with and-1 after an inside basket following a Knecht rebound.
After the opening two quarters, USF was 15-of-32 from the field for 46.9 percent while hitting 5-of-8 free throws and 1-of-5 from three-point range. Smith led USF with 11 points, two assists and two steals in 15 minutes of work. Robson had seven points, five assists and three rebounds while Knecht provided eight points and seven rebounds as USF led, 36-16.
DSU was just 8-of-31 from the field for 25.8 percent and 0-of-3 from three point range. They were led by Olson with six points and two rebounds.
In the third quarter, DSU opened the quarter with a 12-8 advantage as they trailed 44-28 with five minutes to play. Spurred by freshman Andi Mataloni consecutive three point baskets, USF had their 14-4 run to close the quarter to take a 58-32 lead. Knecht was a force inside as she had eight points and six rebounds and two blocks in the quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hummel, who had eight points, scored on an up and under move to push USF's lead to 60-34 at the 7:10 mark. DSU had a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 60-40 but Robson answered on a drive as she reached her double double and gave the Cougars a 62-40 lead. While USF was outscored, 14-12, in the fourth quarter, they didn't allowed any extended run in recorded the home win.
Next for the USF Women's Basketball Team will be a trip to Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday, Nov. 26 in Marshall, Minn. The game, scheduled for a 6 p.m. start, will be USF's NSIC road opener.