WAYNE, NE (KWSN) – After defeating cross town rival Augustana and winning their fourth straight game, the University of Sioux Falls’ (10-8, 6-8 NSIC) looked to carry that momentum as they squared off with No. 12 Wayne State (19-2, 12-2 NSIC) at Rice Auditorium in Wayne, Neb. on Saturday night. The Cougars upset bid came up short as they fell by a final score of 71-61.
The difference in the game came at the free-throw line as Wayne State went to the line 27 times while USF only made their way to the charity stripe nine times.
The Cougars got out to an early 11-5 lead when Taylor Varsho took a pass from Marie Malloy and drilled a shot from downtown just under five minutes into the game.
Varsho helped add to USF’s lead when she came up big from behind the arc for a second time to build the lead up nine points with 14:45 left in the first half.
The Wildcats answered back by scoring seven straight points which was capped off when Addy Roller forced a USF turnover and finished with a layup on the other end of the court with 12:35 left.
The Cougars Sam Knecht and Laura Johnson helped push the lead back to eight points as the duo combined to score all of the Cougars points in an 8-2 run. A Sam Knecht layup with 10:32 left in the half finished off the Cougars run.
After a pair of Wildcat free-throws cut the Cougars lead down to four points, Varsho answered back by taking a Bailey Bouman pass and draining a three-point shot to give USF a 29-22 lead with 2:35 left in the opening period.
The Wildcats responded to the Cougars upset bid by ending the half on a 10-2 run. A three-point shot by Ashton Yossi with 19 seconds left sent the Cougars into the locker room trailing by one-point.
A Bailey Bouman three-point shot with 16:14 left in the game gave USF their first lead of the second half with a score of 43-42.
However, the lead was short-lived as the next possession the Wildcats Jordan Spencer converted the layup which gave WSC a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. The Spencer layup jumpstarted the Wildcats offense as they went on to score six straight points, giving them a 48-43 with 14:30 left in the game.
Laura Johnson then took over for the Cougars offensively as she scored six straight points for USF. Her third bucket with 11:06 left cut the Wildcats lead down to two points.
Wayne State then added to their lead as they responded with two Jordan Spencer free-throws and a Millie Niggeling three-point shot to up the Cougars deficit to seven points with just over eight minutes left.
USF got as close as two points over the last ten minutes of the game when Marie Malloy connected with Laura Johnson who hit the three-point shot.
WSC ended the game with an 8-2 run which was capped off by a pair of Ashton Yossi free-throws. The two-points made the Cougars final deficit 10 points as they fell to the No. 12 Wildcats 71-61.
Laura Johnson recorded her sixth double-double of the season as she scored 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and also grabbed ten rebounds.
Taylor Varsho also helped spark the Cougars offensively as she scored 15 points and dished out five assists.
Sam Knecht just missed out on her second double-double this weekend as she scored ten points and grabbed nine rebounds.
On the defensive end of the court, the Cougars Marie Malloy was a source of constant pressure for the Wildcats as she notched seven steals in 25 minutes of action. Malloy also recorded six points, five assists and three rebounds.
The Wildcats were led by forward Jordan Spencer who scored 22 points and also grabbed nine rebounds. Spencer struggled from the field as she recorded a 35% field goal percentage. However, Spencer made the most of her fourteen attempts at the charity stripe as she ended the game with ten made free-throws.
Neither team dominated in field goal percentage as the Cougars shot 36.9% while holding Wayne State to 37.9%.
The Cougars will return to action this upcoming weekend as they play host to Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State at the Stewart Center on Friday and Saturday.
Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls