Sioux Falls, S.D. (February 1, 2014) – It was Alumni Day at the University of Sioux Falls on Saturday afternoon, and the current Cougars treated the former Cougars to a convincing win.
Laura Johnson made five of her first eight 3-point shots, and tied her career-high with 29 points in USF's 82-73 victory against Bemidji State in front of a solid crowd of 700 Saturday afternoon at the Stewart Center.
Johnson finished 8-of-15 from 3-point range to tie the program’s single game 3-point record and played Batman while sophomore guard Taylor Varsho (18 points) excelled as Robin. Freshman center Sam Knecht also shined in a sidekick role, notching her fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds while the underrated Jaicee Ulmer chipped in with 10 to round out the Cougars’ double-digit scorers.
USF never trailed in this game. The Cougars opened the contest with a Johnson three-pointer and rushed out to a 7-0 lead while holding the Beavers (8-12, 4-12 NSIC) scoreless for the game’s first three minutes. USF held its largest lead of the first half at 42-26 when Johnson drilled a triple off an assist from Alicia Boe with 59 seconds on the clock.
The Beavers trailed by 14 at the half, 42-28. The second half wasn't much better for Bemidji State. USF's impressive spacing and ability to create open shots on the majority of their possessions was an issue all afternoon for BSU. USF opened up a 20-point lead with another Johnson three-pointer at the 14:26 mark.
BSU made things interesting and would cut the deficit to nine, 64-55, with 8:11 to play but the Cougars responded with back-to-back threes from Johnson and Varsho to diffuse the Beaver rally. The only other time that the margin on the scoreboard was in single-digits was in the final minute of the game.
Marie Malloy ran USF's offense with the poise of a veteran (6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 points, 3 steals and zero turnovers) and Johnson-- an exceptional perimeter defender – accounted for four of USF’s six blocks and collected eight rebounds.
The Cougars shot 37.1% from the floor and went 16 of 36 from beyond the arc (44.4%). USF cashed 12 Beaver turnovers in for 22 points but were outrebounded by BSU, 49-45.
USF is on the road for the next two weeks, where they will begin the four-game road swing next Friday at Concordia-St. Paul.