Bench Leads Cougars to Victory Over 1st Place St. Cloud State
SIOUX FALLS< SD — Led by the all-around efforts of Bailey Bouman and some late resiliency, the Cougars handed St. Cloud State just its second loss of the season with a 57-56 victory Saturday afternoon. Bouman scored a game-high 13 points for USF (8-5, 5-4 NSIC), which overcame a late four-point deficit to win on the junior’s layup with seven ticks remaining.
”We’ve been playing really well since the Mankato game,” head coach Travis Traphagen said. ”I think we’re a really good team. This game really showed our team we can compete with a lot of different people.”
Bouman led an outstanding performance by the Cougars reserves, which outscored the starters 36-21. Jaicee Ulmer chipped in 12 points off the bench on 4-of-6 shooting.
Laura Johnson, USF’s leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, had the full attention of St. Cloud State (11-2, 7-2 NSIC) as the Huskies held her scoreless for the first time in her college career (72 games).
“You want to be able to have confidence in a lot of your players,” Traphagen said. “We had 10 players get extended minutes where they got to feel real comfortable. I was pleased with how everyone came in and contributed. We got good contributions from our bench, which is key to playing consistently for an entire game. It was a good effort from the bench.”
The teams played even early on and SCSU was clinging to a tenuous 12-9 lead when USF tied it on an Ulmer 3-pointer at the 10-minute mark. After exchanging baskets, SCSU went on a 6-0 run to go up 23-17 with 3:26 remaining in the first half. During that stretch, USF missed five shots in a row and went nearly four minutes without scoring.
The Cougars finally snapped that streak on a basket by Mikenna Greathouse and SCSU led at intermission, 27-23.
USF shot an efficient 43.5 percent in the first half but committed nine turnovers that SCSU converted into six points.
The Huskies built on their lead in the second half. USF was charged with four turnovers on its first five possessions that lifted SCSU to a 31-23 advantage. The Cougars missed their first two shot attempts before free throws by Ulmer and Bouman’s first basket of the game made it 31-27 at the 14:42 mark.
After Holli Aggen’s layup cut it to 31-29, Bouman went to work, draining three 3-pointers that were sandwiched by a Chrissy Strassburg putback give USF the 40-38 advantage with under 11 minutes to go.
USF pushed its lead to 45-40 but the Huskies didn’t go quietly. Trailing 45-40 with under eight minutes to play, SCSU mounted a rally and would tie the game at 50 from the charity stripe before four straight points in the paint made it 56-52 SCSU with 1:26 left.
Aggen pulled down a defensive board on the Huskies’ ensuing possession and pushed it up to Alyssa Rushton, who connected from distance to cut the deficit to one point at 56-55. With 27 seconds on the clock, Husky Nicole Anderson was fouled from behind but missed both free throws attempts. Johnson collected the rebound for the Cougars and found Bouman, who laid it in for the game-winner with seven seconds left.
USF went 22-for-49 from the floor (44.9 percent) and made seven of fifteen 3-point attempts (46.7 percent).
St. Cloud State shot just 31.0 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from beyond the arc. The Huskies, who entered Saturday’s contest averaging a league-best 14.6 steals per game, finished with only nine swipes.
Rushton led the USF starters with nine points, while Aggen had eight. Johnson hauled in a team-best eight rebounds.
For SCSU, Jessica Benson scored a team-high 12 points in the losing effort. Sam Price added 11.
USF hosts Southwest Minnesota State Tuesday night.
Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls