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USF slips past UMC 75 - 73

USF Cougars
USF Cougars

Sioux Falls, SD (KWSN) - Derek Brown scored 22 points as the University of Sioux Falls avoided a stunning upset Friday night, holding off visiting Minnesota Crookston, 75-73, in the closing minutes. Tyler West had 16 points for the Golden Eagles, who left Sioux Falls with broken hearts as their losing streak extended to 13 in a row. The Cougars trailed by 34-33 at halftime and did not lead again until Mahlon Jones hit a pair at the line with 13:57 to go. The Cougars (10-9, 7-8 NSIC) came out of the gates sluggish against UMC (4-15, 314 NSIC) by starting the game shooting 1 of 7 from the field while the Golden Eagles made 5 of their first 10 field goals to lead 13-7 at the 14:25 mark. Bryan Kielpinski’s traditional three-point play kick-started an 11-0 run for USF that was capped by Brown’s second of five triples to give the Cougars a five-point advantage at 18-13. But the Cougars didn’t honor their visitors at the three point line and the Golden Eagles made them pay for the neglect, draining three quick 3’s during an 11-0 spurt to lead 24-18 at the midway point of the first half. The Cougars battled back to lead 29-28 on a Brown layup and Crookston grabbed six of the last ten points for a slim 34-33 lead at the half.

UMC’s Tyler West started the second half with a personal 6-0 scoring spree to open up a 40-33 lead for the Golden Eagles. UMC kept the Cougars at bay for close to 10 minutes before a Jones three-pointer knotted the game at 54-all before back-to-back Brown triples put USF in front 60-58 with just more than seven minutes to go.  After leading by as many as six late in the second half, the Cougars’ energy diminished along with the lead as the Golden Eagles went on a furious 8-1 run to give them their final lead of the game at 70-69 with 1:39 left on the clock. However, the closing seconds brought a chance for the Cougars to redeem themselves on their home court. Goffney tossed a thread the needle pass to Brown, who knocked down a three that put the Cougars up two, 72-70.  UMC fouled quickly but their victim was the best free throw shooter in the NSIC and Brown hit both ends of a double bonus for a 74-71 Cougar advantage.  Both sides went 1-for-2 at the line on their ensuing possessions to put the score at 75-72 in favor of the Cougars, but USF did the unthinkable and fouled UMC’s Tim Lubke on his ensuing three-point attempt. He would make the first but missed the second to set up the intentional miss on the third attempt, which was collected by Jordan Stotts to preserve the Cougar victory.

The Cougars shot 41.4% from the floor, while UMC posted a 51-percent shooting clip (28-for-55). When USF didn’t push the ball inside, it made 11 of 25 3-pointers. Brown went 5-for-8 from deep and has now moved into third all-time in USF history with 170 career triples. Goffney finished with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting and Jones (10) rounded out the Cougars’ double-digit scorers. USF sunk 16 of its 20 attempts from the line, paced by Jones who converted 5-of-6 freebies. Fortunately for USF, Minnesota Crookston also had its worst nights of the season from the free throw line by shooting just 10 of 18.

Crookston edged USF on the glass, 35-33. The Cougar bench was a big reason why USF emerged with the win, as they outscored their UMC counterparts 49-24. USF closes out the weekend homestand with a 6 p.m. tilt tomorrow night against Bemidji State.  

Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls