No. 11 USF moves to 9-0 with road win in Mankato

MANKATO, MINN. – With a career-high 20 points from Augusta Thramer off the bench, the No. 11 University of Sioux Falls Women's Basketball Team (9-0, 3-0 NSIC) rallied for a 66-61 win on the road at Minnesota State (4-2, 1-1 NSIC) in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play at the Taylor Center in the Bresnan Arena.

Thramer set her career-high of 20 points (15 points, MSU Moorhead, NSIC Tourney, 2/25/18) on a day that USF needed every one of her points. USF trailed by 10 (25-15, 2:13, 2nd Q) and six at half-time but outscored the home-standing Mavericks in the second half, 44-to-33, to pick up the important road win. A three-pointer from two-time All-NSIC guard Kaely Hummel with 44 seconds left provided USF with the lead and the Cougars converted at the foul line to earn the road win.

USF, which moved up to No. 11 in the WBCA – the highest ranking in school history – earlier this week, has opened 9-0 for the first time in the NCAA DII era (since 2012). The Cougars have also started 3-0 in league play for a third straight year and fourth time in five seasons.

While the Cougars had some struggles on the offensive end for a second straight night, USF Head Coach Travis Traphagen was pleased with the grit and fight of his undefeated squad.

"We weren't very good offensively early on but improved as the game continued," said Traphagen, who earned his 226 career win with the program. "Give MSU credit. They are a good team and they stayed after us. We stayed in the game with our work at the foul line and on defense," he said.

"But leave no doubt, I thought our team played some gritty basketball this weekend. With all the problems we had on the offensive end, we stayed in the game because we battled and refused to give in. I was proud of Gus (Augusta Thramer), who took advantage of her opportunity and played with an attacking mentality," said Traphagen. "It is something that our seniors have never lost in this building. This team is just finding a way and that speaks volumes."

Thramer made 5-of-9 field goals and hit 1-of-2 from three-point range while knocking in a career-best nine free throws in 11 attempts. She added three rebounds, three assists and two steals without a turnover in 28 minutes on the floor. Senior guard Mariah Szymanski supplied 14 points and made four treys for a second straight night as she has 138 in her career for ninth all-time. She also surpassed 900 points in her career (903). USF also had 12 points from senior guard Kaely Hummel, who now has 1,336 career points in 99 games (98 starts). She moved past Jamey Hofer (1,331 points, 2008-12, 131 games) for eighth on USF's all-time scoring chart.

Also playing a key role for USF was senior forward Jacey Huinker, who not only have her fifth career double-double but recorded her 21st double digit rebound game. Huinker had 11 points, including 7-of-8 at the foul line, and set her career-best with 16 rebounds. This year, the 5-9 forward has incredibly had two games of 15 rebounds or more.

USF, which hit just 1-of-16 field goals to open the game, finished at 32.1 percent on 18-of-56 shooting from the floor. The Cougars made 7-of-21 from three-point range for 33.3 percent and knocked down 23-of-27 free throws for 85.2 percent.

USF had nine steals but committed 18 turnovers but against a taller opponent, stayed nearly even on the glass. MSU had a 42-40 edge on the boards led by Rachael Shumski who had 12 rebounds to go with her team-high 13 points. MSU, which finished 22-of-60 from the floor for 36.7 percent, also had 11 points from Joey Batt. They made 4-of-18 from three-point range and 13-of-23 at the foul line while committing 17 turnovers but registered 12 steals.

Recap – Scoring
After shooting just 16.7 percent on 4-of-24 shooting (2-of-9 from three-point range), the Cougars trailed 28-22 at halftime. The Cougars, which trailed by as many as 10 points, closed within three before MSU had a half-closing three from Kirstin Klitzke for the lead. USF's was led by Thramer with 12 points as she was 2-of-3 from the field and made 7-of-8 foul shots.

Early on, the Mavericks took a 4-3 lead (5:41) as they scored inside twice. After two foul shots by Thramer, Goodhope hit a jumper for a 7-6 lead at the 4:29 mark of the opening quarter. After that, the Mavericks took control in opening quarter. Kristi Fett's jumper helped the Mavericks to a 10-7 advantage (3:39). And, the lead grew to 12-7 on a Rachel Shumski jumper as part of a 6-0 run by MSU. The Cougars struggled from the field and hit just one of their first nine shots. With two more foul shots by Huinker, the Cougars draw within 12-10 with 31 seconds left in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, USF's offensive problems continued with seven straight misses as MSU took a 17-10 lead after a free throw from Fett with 5:30 to play. When Thramer hit a three, the Cougars ended a nearly 10-minute scoring drought and cut into the MSU lead at 19-13. At the 3:54 mark, two foul shots from Thramer helped USF draw within 19-15. But MSU answered with baskets from Shumski and two from Joey Batt for a 25-15 lead with 2:36 to play.

Thramer scored her second field goal of the quarter as USF drew within 25-17 of MSU (2:01, 2nd Q). Then, Szymanski knocked in a three (1:16, 2nd Q) and Thramer hit a pair of foul shots (:52, 2nd) as USF cut the deficit to 25-22. But Klitzke knocked in a three with three seconds left as MSU took a 28-22 lead at halftime.

As the third quarter opened, Thramer continued to provide offense for USF with a lay-up and a foul shot on a three-point play as USF trailed, 28-25 with nine minutes to play. But MSU scored four straight with two foul shots by Maddy Olson giving the Mavs a 32-25 lead.

USF responded with a 7-0 run as Krystal Carlson scored off a Thramer assist, Huinker hit a jumper and Szymanski knocked in a three at the 5:41 mark to tie the game. After a MSU free throw the Cougars took their first lead of the game (34-33) since the first quarter (7-6) when Huinker scored on a lay-up at the 4:39 mark. After MSU again extended the lead to 43-39, Hummel hit her first three of the game with 44 seconds left in the third quarter as USF cut the deficit to one at 43-42. In the quarter, USF was 8-of-18 for 44.4 percent as they outscored MSU, 20-15. MSU shot 35.7 percent on 5-of-14 shooting.

Early in the fourth quarter (9:15), Kiara James made a free throw to draw the game even at 43. After USF led 45-44, Olson hit a three pointer for MSU to retake the lead. But USF had the answer again on Szymanski third trey of the game. However, MSU matched it when Tayla Stuttley connected from three-point distance at the 4:45 mark for a 52-48 lead.

From that point, the teams would battle back and forth. Thramer reached 20 points on a basket at the 4:31 mark as USF drew within 52-50. Then Hummel connected on a pair of free throws at the 4:06 mark to tie the game. At the 3:27 mark, Jessie Geer converted a lay-up as USF took a 54-52 lead.

At the other end Stuttley had a lay-up to tie the game. With 2:39 to play, Hummel added two more free throws for a 56-54 lead. Shumski hit a free throw and a basket but Szymanski again came up big as her fourth three of the game gave USF a 59-57 lead with 1:27 left.

Yet, in this game of back and forth, MSU's Joey Batt knocked in a three with 54 seconds left for the lead. But then Hummel, the NSIC Preseason Player of the Year in the South Division, came up with a huge three for a 62-60 lead. USF never trailed again. In the final nine seconds, Huinker hit four straight free throws to ice the USF win.