USF Rallies To Upset 16th Ranked Moorhead

Coo Women Bounce Back From Northern Loss To Win 66-61

SIOUX FALLS – Led by its trio of seniors – Madi Robson, Sam Knecht and Alyson Johnsen –  combining for 47 points, the University of Sioux Falls Women’s Basketball Team (16-4, 12-4 NSIC) rallied to upset #16 Minnesota State Moorhead (17-3, 13-2 NSIC) before 674 at the Stewart Center.

The Cougars, which trailed by as many as seven points (44-37, 2:07) in the third quarter, outscored MSUM, 22-15 in the fourth quarter to pick up the crucial win. As a result, USF moved to 16-4 overall and 12-4 in the NSIC, which leaves second in the South Division, just a game behind leader Winona State.

Robson led USF with 19 points, hitting 6-of-14 shots from the field, including 3-of-5 from three point range. Robson also added five assists and three rebounds. Senior center Sam Knecht, who hit a go ahead shot just missed a double double with 16 points and nine rebounds.  Also reaching double digits was Alyson Johnsen who had 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

The Cougars used strong defense and hustle plans to put together their 12th league win and earn their second win in the series with MSUM. USF held the Dragons to 41.4 percent shooting on 24-of-58 from the floor and just 4-of-17 from three point range for 23.5 percent. In addition, USF recorded five steals and four blocks, including two from Moira Duffy. In addition, USF limited MSUM’s leading scorer Drew Sannes to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

On offense, the Cougars made 23-of-62 shot for 37.1 percent, including making 8-of-18 from three point range for 44.4 percent. USF, which held a 38-37 rebound advantage, had just four turnovers.

In the opening minutes of the game, Knecht knocked in a jumper and Robson dropped in a pair of free throws for USF, which led 4-0 at the 7:42 mark.  Cassidy Thorson, who had seven on the night, hit a three pointer as MSUM took a 10-6 lead with 2:30 to play.  Robson drew USF to 10-9 after a three pointer with 1:51 on the clock.  MSUM closed with a 7-4 run to lead 17-13 at the quarter break.

After Morgan Ham connected on a basket inside for MSUM early in the second quarter, the Cougars responded with the hustle play by Jacey Huinker, which started a 10-0 run and allowed USF to retake the lead. First, Huinker, who had eight rebounds, five points, four assists and two steals, made a jumper as the shot clock was expiring and then kept a possession alive with an offensive board, leading to a three pointer from Johnsen. Then, Knecht made her third basket of the half followed by a Robson three for a 23-19 advantage with 6:15 left in the half.

Off a Robson assist, Brooke Smith finished a fast break as the Cougars built a 27-21 lead over MSUM, which would be its largest of the game. Later, Robson shuttered MSUM’s defense with a stutter step on drive and lay-up for a 29-23 lead at the 3:03 mark.

However USF went cold and the Dragons closed on an 8-0 run with Jacky Volkert’s basket with one second to play giving MSUM a 31-29 halftime lead. At the break, USF was 12-of-33 from the field for 36.4 percent, including 3-of-9 from three point range. USF, which had a 19-to-16 edge on the boards, committed just three turnovers.

Meanwhile the Dragons converted 12-of-26 shots from the floor for 46.2 percent and knocked down 3-of-8 from three point range. Robson led USF with 12 points, adding two assists and dropped in a pair of three pointers (three attempts). Knecht added six points and Johnsen, five. Sannes had nine for MSUM with Volkert adding eight.

Three minutes into the third quarter, Kaely Hummel, who had six points and two assists, made a three-pointer to draw USF within 33-32 (6:40).  Another three, this time by Andi Mataloni, cut MSUM’s lead to 39-37 (3:42).  But MSUM responded with five straight points to extend the advantage to a game-high margin of seven at 44-37 with 2:01 to play.  Johnsen answered with a three (1:35) for USF and a played a key role on a defensive stop which led to pair of Robson free throws. As a result the Cougars cut the deficit to 44-42 with 1:20 left.  After a Robson drive and score in the closing seconds, USF trailed MSUM, 46-44 at the third quarter break.

After the Dragons took a five-point lead in the fourth quarter, USF began its comeback. And, it was led by Robson, who knocked down a three-pointer (8:58) to reduce the MSUM advantage to 49-47. Then Robson fed Knecht inside to tie the game at 49 with 8:03 to play. Knecht added another inside basket a few moments later as USF took a 51-49 lead (7:28).

With the game tied at 53, Hummel dialed up a three pointer from the top of the key (5:12) as USF took a lead they did not relinquish the rest of the way. With a pair of free throws from Knecht and one from Huinker USF led 61-55 with 2:28 to play. MSUM responded with six straight, including a three point play from Volkert to tie the game at 61 with 1:34 left on the clock.

Despite losing Robson to fouls, the Cougars had an answer. That meant going inside to Knecht, whose basket pushed USF into a 63-61 lead. Then, USF stopped MSUM on the offensive end with free throws from Mariah Szymanksi (:12) and two from Johnsen (:01) closing the scoring for USF.

Next for USF will be a road trip north to face U-Mary on Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. and a game at Minot State on Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. 

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