WBB: Cougars get win over Emporia State

SIOUX FALLS — Stellar efforts from three seniors - Jacey Huinker, Kaely Hummel and Maria Szymanski - lead the University of Sioux Falls Women's Basketball Team (3-0) to a nonconference regional win over Emporia State (3-2) on Tuesday at the Stewart Center. In a matchup of two teams which received votes in the WBCA National Poll released earlier today, the Cougars outshot the Hornets, 51.9 percent to 32.3 percent and took a 42-30 rebound edge in a key victory.

The Cougars, which will host Southwest Minnesota State in USF's NSIC home opener on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., led 31-30 at halftime and used a 46-to-38 margin in the final two quarters to pick up a win.

"It was a battle. They (Emporia State) are a really good team," said USF Women's Head Coach Travis Traphagen. "I think we looked like a different team in the second half. It was a great regional win. They never had any quit. When we had them up 11 points they came right back at us. This was one of those games, I don't have a lot of control. We just tried to put our players in space and make some plays which I think they did. It was a really good performance," he said.

The Numbers -
Senior Jacey Huinker finished the game with a 12 points and had a career-high 15 rebounds as she had her fourth career double double but her first since 2017-18 after recovering from an injury a year ago. Huinker was 3-of-4 from the floor, 6-of-6 at the foul line and dished out four assists in her best game of the season.

Senior Kaely Hummel led the team with a game-high 19 points, including going 3-for-7 from beyond the arc. Hummel hit 8-of-13 shots from the field and added two rebounds and two assists. With the three treys, Hummel became the fourth Cougar to eclipse 200 or more three-pointers in their career (202 for Hummel), with the previous three being Laura Johnson (259, 2010-14), Taylor Varsho (245, 2014-16), and Chelsey Nelson (208, 2002-06).

In addition to becoming the fourth player to score over 200 three-pointers, Hummel also moved to 13th all time in career scoring (1,238), passing Amanda Spronk (1,224) in the purple and white.

Szymanski was a fireplug on both sides of the ball. She supplied 13 points by hitting 5-of-7 shots from the floor. She hit 3-of-4 three-pointers and her night included scoring 10 points in the third quarter. Senior Jessie Geer was another USF player to reach double figures. Geer was 5-of-9 from the floor and added three rebounds.

Game Recap -
USF received four points from Kaely Hummel but trailed Emporia State, 13-6 at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter. However, in this game runs would go back and forth throughout the evening. With both team pressing the action, the Cougars responded to the ESU quick start by taking off on a 7-0 run and tied the game at 13. USF's run started with 3:47 to play when Lauren Sanders hammered in a three to cut the lead to 13-9. Then sophomore forward Krystal Carlson followed a miss jumper with an offensive board and put-back to cut the deficit to 13-11 which was followed by Geer's driving lay-up. Hummel's three with 17 seconds left provided USF an 18-17 lead.

Midway (6:09) through the second quarter Carlson scored on a drive to the basket for a 22-20 lead and then added a free throw for a 23-20 lead. Geer's jumper from the free throw line helped USF to a 25-20 lead with 4:31 left. However ESU had a three – fourth of the first half – to cut the lead to 25-23. After ESU took a 30-26 lead after a 7-0 run, the Cougars finished the half with five straight, including the second three of the half by Sanders with five seconds to play which enabled the Cougars to take the lead at the break, 31-30.

The Cougars built their first double digit advantage of the game with seven minutes to go in the third quarter when Szymanski hit her second three of the game at the 5:20 mark for a 47-37 lead. After a drive and score from Szymanski, who had 10 in the quarter, plus a fast-break layup by Jessie Geer, USF took a 57-46 lead with 1:47 to play. But ESU scored five straight before USF had a basket from Geer with 12 seconds left for a 59-51 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.

With 6:31 left in the contest, Huinker got a lay-up in the paint on a fast break to put the Cougars up by 11 (67-56). ESU heated up on both sides of the court, holding the Cougars scoreless for the next 3:10 while going on an 8-0 run to make it a three-point, 67-64 Cougar lead.

At the 2:36 mark of the fourth quarter, Symanski hit a dagger of a three to put the Cougars ahead by six. The Hornets were able to get their final basket of the game with a lay-up, but the Cougars finished the game as Hummel knocked in a critical three from the right corner for a seven point lead and a pair of Hannah Jones free throws helped USF build the lead to nine and ice the game away.