SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KWSN) – After leading for all but 2:42 of the second half, USF (6-5, 2-5 NSIC) fell in the final moments of their game against Minnesota State Moorhead (7-4, 3-4 NSIC). The Cougars were held scoreless by the Dragons defense for the last 2:56 of the game as MSUM won 68-67.
The Dragons advantage came in the paint as Minnesota State Moorhead outrebound Sioux Falls 50-33. The Cougars were kept in the game by their tenacious defense which forced 22 turnovers and only committed eight turnovers of their own.
The Dragons jumped out to a ten point lead with 12:27 left in the first half after Natalie Van Wyhe hit a three-point shot off of a Morgan Banasik pass. Van Wyhe ended the night with 12 points and four rebounds for MSUM.
The Cougars then answered the Dragons run with a 14-5 run of their own which was capped off when Sam Knecht made a pass to Jaicee Ulmer who hit a three-point shot to cut the Dragons lead to one point.
USF looked to take a slim lead into the locker-room, but two Morgan Zabel free-throws with two seconds left gave Minnesota State Moorhead a one-point lead at the break.
The Cougars came out in the second half and looked to take control of the game, building their lead to ten points when Sam Knecht hit a jump shot with 14:14 left in the game.
The Dragons slowly cut down the Cougars lead and then went on an 8-0 run to give themselves a two point lead with just under eight minutes left in the game.
Both offenses slowed towards the end of the game as both teams scored a combined six points in the final five minutes of the game. With just under three minutes remaining, USF’s Alicia Boe made a layup to give USF a 67-66 lead.
Then with under one minute left, the Dragons Morgan Zabel gave Minnesota State Moorhead a go-ahead bucket when she drove into the paint to and put the ball off of the glass to give them a 68-67 lead.
The Cougars then brought down the court and Taylor Varsho took a shot from behind the arc, but her shot bounced off of the back of the rim. The loose ball was then grabbed by both teams and declared a jump ball which gave USF the ball with 30 seconds left. After the inbounds pass, Varsho drove into the paint and kicked the ball out to an open Alicia Boe who’s three point shot was no good. Varsho then grabbed the rebound and put up one final attempt, but her shot came up short as the final buzzer went off.
USF received big scoring contributions from Taylor Varsho and Jaicee Ulmer who each dropped 18 points for the Cougars. USF’s Sam Knecht also got into the action as she recorded her second double-double of the season with her 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Dragons were led by Morgan Zabel who scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. MSUM’s Meghan Roehrich also got into the action with her ten points and two rebounds.
The Cougars shooting woes continued as they shot under 45% from the field for the 11th straight game this season. USF shot 39.1% from the field and 28% from behind the arc.
The Cougars return to action on Saturday when they take on Northern State in Sioux Falls. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. at the Stewart Center.
Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls