SMSU takes down USF in men's basketball

SIOUX FALLS – Despite 29 points from Trevon Evans, the University of Sioux Falls Men's Basketball Team (8-4, 3-3 NSIC) dropped a hard-fought 79-75 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference decision to Southwest Minnesota State (8-4, 3-3 NSIC) on Sunday at the Stewart Center.

With the victory, SMSU earned a split in the season series with USF, which defeated the Mustangs, 94-72 in Marshall, Minn., on Dec. 1.

Evans, who now has 880 career points, made 9-of-23 field goals, including 4-of-9 from three-point range, as he reached double-digits for a 12th straight time this season and the 38th time in his career. Evans, who also had seven rebounds, two assists and two steals, also surpassed 20 points in a game for the 24th time.

USF also had double-digit scoring efforts from redshirt freshman Chase Grinde, who had 13 points, six rebounds and three assists. Grinde hit 6-of-10 shots from the floor and had a steal in 36 minutes on the floor. Senior forward Drew Guebert continued his movement up USF's all-time scoring chart with 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals against SMSU. Guebert moved past USF Athletics Hall of Famer Chris Frick (1,642 points, 1984-87) and former USF teammate Mack Johnson (1,650 points, 2013-17) and now sits at 1,651 points in his career. Guebert now has 11 double figure scoring games this year and 78 in his career.

USF trailed 36-35 at halftime and was outscored, 43-40, in the second half by the Mustangs, which was led by senior Ryan Bargeman with 31 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Bruggeman hit 11-of-21 from the field. SMSU used an 11-to-8 edge in made three-pointers and a 14-13 margin at the foul line to slip past USF.

The Cougars, which owned a 41-32 edge on the boards, was hurt by turnovers, especially in the second half. USF had just one in the opening 20 minutes of play but then committed 13 in the second half. USF made 27-of-58 field goals for 46.6 percent and knocked in 8-of-19 shots from three-point range for 42.1 percent but hit only 13-of-21 foul shots for 61.9 percent.

As for SMSU, they were 27-of-66 from the field for 40.9 percent but made 11-of-30 shots from three-point range while hammering home 14-of-17 free throws. In addition, SMSU committed just six turnovers while registering eight steals and four blocks. Also for SMSU, Taylor Schafer had 18 points, including 4-of-10 from three-point range.

USF was productive in the paint, putting together a 36-18 advantage. However, SMSU had a 15-to-4 edge in points off turnovers and outscored USF, 12-9, in points off the bench.

In a game with five tie scores and nine lead changes, SMSU opened up an 11-8 lead at the 12:42 mark of the first half after a three-ball from Schafer. With an 8-5 run, the Cougars tied the game at 16 with 10:41 on the clock as Evans converted a lay-up and finished off the "and 1" play with a made free throw. After SMSU took a 27-23 lead with 5:42 to play, the Cougars had an 11-2 run and grabbed a 34-29 lead when Grinde finished off an offensive possession with a dunk off a feed from Guebert. However, SMSU answered with a half-closing, 7-1, run to take a 36-35 advantage.

USF, which had an 18-to-10 advantage of points in the paint in the first half, hit 14-of-33 field goals for 42.4 percent in the opening half. Of that total, USF was 4-of-10 from three-point range. SMSU had the lead despite shooting 38.9 percent (14-of-36) from the field but had a 6-to-4 edge in made treys.

Early in the second half, USF took a 45-41 lead after Evans knocked in a trey and Austin Slater had an offensive board and put back with 13:47 left in the game. However, SMSU responded with an 18-to-8 run over the next 6:32 to take a 59-53 lead at the 7:15 mark. It was an advantage that they didn't give back, despite numerous tries by USF.

At the 3:52 mark, Guebert made a lay-up to draw USF within 61-58 at the 3:52 mark. However, the Mustangs responded with an 11-to-5 run to take a 72-63 advantage with 58 seconds to play. USF was not finished as they cut the lead to two points at 77-75 with 13 seconds left after Evans made a pair of free throws. Then, Bruggeman made a pair of free throws with eight seconds left to put the game on ice.

USF will stay at home and host Wayne State and Augustana on Jan. 4-5 at the Stewart Center.