ST. CLOUD, MINN. (February 26, 2014) – The Cougars women’s basketball team relied on a true team effort to give themselves a 75-68 victory over St. Cloud State at Halenbeck Hall on Wednesday. The Cougars had nine of their ten players who saw action score in the game.
The win gives the Cougars their first postseason victory in their second year of competing in the NSIC and sends USF to the quarterfinals of the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament in Sioux Falls. The Cougars improve to 13-14 on the season while St. Cloud State finishes the year with a 16-11 record.
The first half for both teams resembled a pendulum as one team built a lead the other answered back and built a lead of their own. The Huskies got out to an early 7-2 lead when Sam Price hit a pair of free-throws, but the Cougars answered back with a 13-2 run which was capped off when Amber Paden got the ball in the paint and finished with a layup with 13:17 left in the half.
St. Cloud State then went on a run of their own over the next three minutes as they built a seven-point lead with just under 10 minutes left in the half. The Huskies looked as though they were on pace to take a commanding lead into the half as they lead by nine points with 4:20 remaining in the first period.
However, the Cougars failed to get the memo as they recorded a 14-5 run late in the half to give themselves a two-point lead. The momentum swung the Cougars way when Marie Malloy got fouled on a made jumper and hit the shot from the charity stripe. The next time down the court Malloy got fouled again and hit both of her attempts. On the Huskies next inbounds pass, Laura Johnson swiped the ball from SCSU and hit a mid-range jumper. A late Sam Price jumper then sent the two teams into the locker room tied at 38 apiece.
The Cougars second half performance was impressive as they never trailed in the final twenty minutes of action. A Laura Johnson three-point shot with 13:16 left in the game gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the night with ten points.
The Huskies then whittled down the Cougars lead to as little as one-point with just under six minutes left in the game, but USF responded by scoring nine straight points.
Two late three-pointers by Rachael Moen cut down the Cougars final margin of victory, but it was too little too late as USF came away from the game with a seven-point win.
Taylor Varsho led the way for the Cougars as she scored a team-high 15 points. Varsho did the majority of her damage in the first half where she scored nine points on 4-of-7 shooting. She also did a great job of setting up her teammates as she recorded five assists.
Seniors Laura Johnson, Bailey Bouman and Chrissy Strassburg came up big for the Cougars from downtown as they hit eight of the Cougars ten three-point makes. Johnson ended the game with eleven points and seven rebounds while also swiping four steals. Bouman and Strassburg each hit a three-point shot in the final two minutes of the game to keep the Huskies at bay.
Coming into the game with a season average of 5.2 points per game, Marie Malloy went well above her average as she scored 10 points for USF going 3-of-4 from the field and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. Malloy also dished out five dimes for the Cougars on the offensive end of the court.
The Huskies were led by Rachael Moen who scored 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Sam Price and Lexy Petermann also got into the scoring action as they combined to score 29 points.
Despite turning the ball over five more times than the Huskies, USF used a 50.0% shooting performance to spur them to a victory. The output was the second highest of the season for the Cougars while the highest (50.9%) came in the Cougars 92-79 victory over St. Cloud State earlier this season. USF also shot 41.7% from beyond the arc.
Defense also played a key role in the Cougars victory as they held the Huskies to shooting only 33.8% from the field and 26.9% from downtown.
Next up for the Cougars will be a game against Wayne State on Saturday, March 1. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls