USF women enter NSIC semis with confidence

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - During this time of the basketball season, the concept is simple for the USF women’s basketball team. Win and you keep the season alive.

“I think we’re peaking at the right time and I think we’re playing our best. I think we’ve had a good couple of practices this week to prepare us for this,” said junior guard Kaely Hummel.

After defeating Minnesota-Crookston in the opening round of the NSIC Tournament on Wednesday, the second seeded Cougars from the South prep for sixth seeded Wayne State on Saturday.

“Usually when we get to tournament time a lot of people don’t like to play Sioux Falls, because I mean once we get to the Pentagon it’s just another game,” said Hummel.

But the Cougars enter with confidence. They defeated the Wildcats in both of their matchups earlier this season, while the Coo also have won 11 of their last 12 games and ride a nine game win streak.

“I would that hope people that know our program kind of says that we're a team that plays our best basketball down the stretch. I think when you’re in Sioux Falls, you want to get to the Pentagon so bad because it’s just such an amazing experience.I think half the battle is just getting to the Pentagon, because once you’re there it’s a neutral tournament, on a neutral floor, and it really comes down to two match-ups,” said USF Women’s Head Coach Travis Traphagen.

What’s even more impressive, USF is having this success with the youngest team in the conference and no seniors on the roster.

“We made kind of a change about a month, month and half ago on what we were doing offensively and it clicked, the only thing I'm upset about is that I didn’t get change it earlier,” said Traphagen. “I hope some of the opponents would say we’re a scary team right now. The reality is we’re not the biggest team in our league right now, most people would say we’re one of the most athletic team in the league, so if we can go ahead and rebound the basketball and defend inside and try to keep the basketball out of there I like the chances against anyone we play, he added.

With the Cougars on the bubble when it comes to the NCAA Division Two Tournament, this weekend is huge for the team’s future.

“That’s the ultimate goal, that would just feel surreal and just taking in that moment with your teammates, that’s the goal,” said Hummel.

“The thing that we’re in control of is ourselves and we’ll get out and play really hard and see where that’s at. But hopefully we continue to be hot and don’t even leave it up to the committee and just win our way in,” said Traphagen.

Tip-off against Wayne State is at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Pentagon.