USF advances to the NSIC semis with big win over Wayne St.

SIOUX FALLS – Winning in the NSIC Tourney is commonplace for the University of Sioux Falls Women's Basketball Team.

With five players scoring in double-digits, USF (23-7) secured a school-record 10th straight victory by rolling past Wayne State (15-15), 103-67 in the quarterfinals of the NSIC Tourney at the Sanford Pentagon on Saturday afternoon.

With its familiar place in the tournament semifinals for the fourth straight year, USF scored over 100 points for the first time in the DII program-era and the 103 points is the most since a 103-47 win over Johnson & Wales (Colo.) on Dec. 19, 2008 at the Stewart Center.

The Cougars, which stand 5-0 in NSIC Tournament quarterfinal games, improved their record in the NSIC Tourney to 13-5, including 2-0 in 2018-19. The 36-point margin of victory was USF's 13th win this season in which they had a double-digit margin and the eighth game by 33 points or more.

With the win, USF, the No. 2 seed from the South Division, will face the MSU Moorhead, the No. 1 seed from the North in the semifinals at noon Monday at the Pentagon. MSUM defeated Winona State, 72-67.

USF's victory also gave USF 23 wins in a season, which is tied for the third most in a season. USF was 23-10 in 2002-03, 23-3 in 2011-12 and 23-7 this year.

Sophomore guard Lauren Sanders scored 21 points off the bench to lead USF in scoring as she reached 20 points in her career for a third time and reached double-digits in points for an 11th time. Sanders hit 8-of-9 field goals and three of four from three-point range while grabbing three rebounds and dishing three assists.

Sophomore Anna Goodhope added 20 points, five rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal in 22 minutes of action for USF. Goodhope, who now has 12 career double-digit scoring games with nine at USF, was 8-of-15 from the field and knocked in 4-of-6 from three-point range. USF also had 17 points from junior guard Kaely Hummel, 16 by junior guard Mariah Szymanski and 10 from freshman forward Krystal Carlson.

Hummel, who reached double-digits for the 64th time in her career and 25th time this season, now has 1,172 career points and ranks 16th but is just two from taking over 15th all-time (Sherri Hawes, 1,173 points, 1991-95). As for Szymanski, she hit 4-of-6 field goals, 7-of-7 from the foul line and hit her only three as she reached double-digits for the 33rd time in her career. Szymanski added a team-high four assists while grabbing five rebounds and registering a steal.

"We shot the ball extremely well against Wayne State today," said USF Head Coach Travis Traphagen, who won his 217th career game at USF. "I felt like we were hitting on all cylinders today. Our defense was really good until the fourth quarter but we kept attacking. That was a key to our success. We never let up and kept the momentum flowing," added Traphagen, whose team defeated Wayne State three times in 2018-19.

USF's shooting prowess was certainly a key factor in the offensive explosion on Saturday afternoon. They shot 50 percent from the field on 36-of-72 shooting. However, USF was 32-of-54 for 59.3 percent over the opening three periods when they set a DII program mark with 90 points through three quarters of play.
The Cougars, which trailed just once in the game, built a 29-17 lead over one quarter while hitting 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from the field.

At the half, USF had a 54-33 lead as they hit 10-of-19 field goals for 52.6 percent. In the third quarter, USF had a season-best 36 points as they doubled up WSC in the period by hitting 13-of-22 field goals for 59.1 percent. Also in the opening three quarters, USF was 11-of-17 from three-point range for 64.7 percent. By hitting 14-of-27 three-pointers for 51.9 percent, the Cougars had 10 or more threes in a game for the 10th time this season although they had not had 10 or more since a home win over Winona State on Feb. 15.

The Cougars rebounding and tough defense played a role in the win. The Cougars had a 38-to-34 rebound advantage and forced WSC into 13 turnovers while just committing seven. On the boards, USF turned their 12 offensive rebounds into a 17-to-5 margin in second chance points. In addition, crucial for USF was a 31-to-14 margin in bench points led by Sanders's hot-shooting from the perimeter.
While WSC had a 42-to-38 edge in points in the paint, the Cougars used their pressure defense to gain a 22-to-13 margin on points off turnovers and also had 15-to-10 margin in fast-break points.

WSC, which was 30-of-65 for 46.2 percent from the field, had a game-high 29 points from Erin Norling. However, WSC made just 5-of-17 shots from three-point range while connecting on 11-of-14 foul shots.

USF used a blistering shooting pace in the opening two quarters to build a 54-33 lead at the halftime break. The Cougars made 19-of-32 from the field for 59.4 percent with 7-of-10 conversions from three-point range. Szymanski, who hit 7-of-7 from the foul line and made 3-of-5 field goals including a three, led USF with 14 points. The Cougars held an 18-17 rebound advantage and dished 10 assists with six steals. WSC hit 14-of-35 from the field for 40 percent and made just 2-of-8 from three-point range. Norling led MSC with 15 points.

Hummel, who had eight points in the half, and Carlson had back-to-back baskets in paint as USF took an early 4-2 lead. After an offensive board Goodhope, who had eight points and three rebounds in the half, passed the ball to Geer, who knocked down one of her first half three-pointers from the left corner for an 11-6 lead. Geer had nine points, three rebounds, two steals and two assists in the quarter.

Two foul shots from Szymanski provided USF with a 19-12 lead. Then, the junior from Pulaski, Wisc., added a three-point play and two foul shots for a 24-17 advantage with 1:23 to play. Off the bench, Sanders hit the first of her two threes in the opening half with under a minute to play in the first quarter. When Szymanski converted two foul shots with 10 seconds to go, USF took a 29-17 lead to the break.

Geer hit her second three of game for a 32-17 edge early in the second quarter. Then, Hummel (8:20) made a jumper for 34-17 edge. After a 5-0 WSC run, Goodhope scored inside for a 36-22 lead. Off the bench, Andi Mataloni immediately came up big as she knocked down a three at the 4:02 mark for a 43-25 edge. At the break, USF took a 54-33 advantage as Szymanski and Geer closed the second quarter with threes.

The opening possession of the second half was an indicator that this game would belong to USF. With the shot clock winding to zero, Goodhope tossed up a ball from three-point range and it was in as USF took a 57-33 advantage. USF had a 36-to-18 margin in the quarter to put the game away. At the break USF had a 90 -51 lead. In the third quarter, USF pushed the lead to a game-high 41 (2:11, 88-47) after a basket from Sanders.

In the fourth quarter, WSC had a 25-13 edge over USF, which had replaced its starters with the issue decided. With the lead well over 30, the Cougars worked on the clock and moved on to the league tourney semis.