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Cougars Falter Late In 78-75 Loss To Upper Iowa

Laura Johnson and Sam Knecht, University of Sioux Falls Cougars vs Upper Iowa Peacocks
University of Sioux Falls

FAYETTE, IA — The Cougars played the second game of a three game road trip this weekend and fell for the second night in a row. Despite trailing for most of the game, Upper Iowa (4-5, 3-2 NSIC) pulled off an impressive comeback late against USF (5-4, 1-4 NSIC) winning the game 78-75. The Peacocks were led by Whitney Kieffer who scored 35 points and grabbed seven rebounds for UIU.

Sam Knecht led an early Cougar charge as she notched four points, three rebounds, and three blocks in limited time in the first half due to foul trouble. Knecht’s putback with 13:44 to play in the first half gave the Cougars a 16-8 lead over the Peacocks.

The Cougars extended their lead to fourteen points with 6:47 left when Taylor Varsho scored a layup off of a Shelby Hemmann pass. However, the Peacocks answered with a 16-7 run to cut USF’s lead down to five points with just under one minute remaining. UIU’s  Kieffer capped off the comeback effort with two of her nineteen first half points.

The Cougars ended the half on a strong note thanks to an Alicia Boe three-point shot and a pair of Marie Malloy free throws. USF would take a 45-35 lead into the locker room.

Upper Iowa came out on a mission in the second half as they forced two early USF turnovers and scored three straight buckets to cut the USF lead down to four points. The Cougars answered back with a 6-0 run of their own which was finished by a Laura Johnson jump shot.

Both teams then buckled down defensively as there were no points scored for either side in a nearly three minute span. Upper Iowa’s Kieffer broke the scoreless streak with 14:41 with her layup off of a Sam Thrapp pass cutting the Cougars lead down to eight points.

With just over ten minutes remaining in the game, a Hemmann jump shot gave the Cougars a 62-51 lead, but the Peacocks exploded offensively as they went on a 16-6 run which was capped off by a Kieffer layup.

Knecht played well in sixteen minutes of action, but her night came to an early end when she fouled out with over five minutes left to play in the game. She ended the night with ten points, five rebounds, and three blocks.

With just over three minutes to go, UIU’s Kieffer got fouled on a made jumpshot and connected from the stripe to give Upper Iowa a two-point lead and their first lead of the game.

Johnson answered back as she hit a three-point shot with just over two minutes left to give the Cougars a one-point lead. Johnson’s three-point shot was off of a Chrissy Strassburg pass.

Jaicee Ulmer completed a three-point play with less than one-minute left in the game to give USF a four-point lead.

Free-throws by Laura Buck and Kieffer gave the Peacocks a one-point lead with thirty seconds left. The Cougars then brought the ball down the court where Johnson missed a jump shot with ten seconds left. The Cougars sent the Peacocks Thrapp to the line where she hit both of her attempts to extend UIU’s lead to three-points. The ensuing possession the Cougars turned the ball over with only three seconds remaining as UIU claimed a three-point victory.

Ulmer and Varsho also chipped in for the Cougars offensively as they scored 17 and 16 points respectively.

The Cougars struggled mightily from behind the arc as they only connected on 6 of their 31 three-point attempts (19.3%) while the Peacocks were 50% from downtown. USF was also out rebounded for the second night in-a-row as UIU grabbed 46 rebounds to the Cougars 35.

The Cougars will play next on December 21 when they take on Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, Minn.

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Courtesy:  University of Sioux Falls

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