MARSHALL, MINN. (KWSN) – USF (6-4, 2-4 NSIC) broke their four game skid and notched their second NSIC victory of the season on Saturday when they defeated Southwest Minnesota State (2-8, 0-6 NSIC) 66-53 in a game in which USF never trailed. Defense was key for the Cougars as they held the Mustangs to 32.8% shooting from the field including 17.6% from behind the arc.
The Cougars were fast out of the gate as they went on an 11-3 run to start the game. The run was capped off by a Jaicee Ulmer three-point shot off of a Chrissy Strassburg pass. The Mustangs then tied up the game at 15 with a 12-4 run of their own which was sparked by the play of Bree Holleman and Annessa Rosch who combined for 10 of the Mustangs 12 points in that stretch.
With under ten minutes left in the first half, the Cougars Bailey Bouman hit a shot from behind the arc to give USF a 26-17 lead.
Both teams struggled toward the end of the first half as there was a stretch of over five and a half minutes where neither team scored a field goal. The scoring drought was ended by SMSU’s Annessa Rosch who hit a shot from downtown to bring the Mustangs within two points of the Cougars.
A Jaicee Ulmer layup with less than 30 seconds left in the half gave the Cougars a 32-28 lead heading into the break. Ulmer scored 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the first half for USF.
The Cougars used a 7-0 run early in the second half to increase their lead to nine points with 16:32 remaining in the game. The run was finished with a Jaicee Ulmer three-point shot off of a Laura Johnson pass.
SMSU answered back again with nine straight points of their own to tie the game up at 43. The run was capped off with a Rebekah Rolling shot in the paint with 12:03 left in the game.
Just when the Mustangs worked to get the Cougars lead down to six points, USF’s Taylor Varsho hit a shot from downtown to give USF a nine point lead with just over four minutes left.
The Cougars increased their final margin of victory to 13 points with a pair of Shelby Hemmann free throws with less than one minute remaining.
Jaicee Ulmer led all scorers as she put up a career-high 20 points for USF. Ulmer also grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists.
Taylor Varsho notched her first double-double of the year as she scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Laura Johnson was the third Cougar player in double-digits scoring as she scored 10 points and also grabbed five rebounds.
The Cougars shooting woes from behind the arc continued as they shot 23.1% (6-of-26) on three-point attempts, but were still able to come up with timely three-point makes to keep the Mustangs at bay.
The Mustangs were led in scoring by Bree Holleman and Hannah Beeler who combined for 22 points.
The Cougars showed improvement on the glass as they out-rebounded the Mustangs 49-39 which included 16 offensive boards for USF.
USF will now take a nearly two week hiatus from games as they play next on January 3 against Minnesota State-Moorhead at the Stewart Center at 6 p.m.
Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls