Sioux Falls, SD
Trevon Evans tied a career-high with 31 points and led University of Sioux Falls Men’s Basketball (7-1, 3-0 NSIC) to a fourth straight victory by rallying for a 90-78 decision over Upper Iowa (6-5, 0-3 NSIC) in NSIC action at the Stewart Center before 774 in attendance on Saturday.
With the victory, USF is 7-1 and off to its best start since 2006-07. The Cougars also sit 3-0 and in first place in the NSIC South. USF is 3-0 in the NSIC for the first time since joining the NSIC in 2012.
After trailing by 13 points (36-23) late in the first half (3:36), the Cougars put together their most productive second half of the season and outscored UIU, 60-41, as they rallied for the win.
Evans, who scored 27 of his game-high 31 points in the second half, played a lead role. Evans, a junior guard from Wichita, Kan., was just 1-of-6 shooting, including 1-of-3 from distance, in the first half and had four points. Things were different for the guard in the second half as he knocked in 8-of-10 field goals and made two of his three treys. Additionally, Evans, who was 9-of-9 at the charity stripe after the halftime break, grabbed seven rebounds, dished three assists and had two steals.
“Early on Drew (Guebert) was in foul trouble and we were having issues putting the ball in the basket. But the one great thing about this team is their drive and focus and never giving up,” said USF head coach Chris Johnson, whose team now has won five games after trailing at halftime, including the last three.
“Overcoming halftime deficits isn’t the normal way to success. But it seems our guys have found a second gear in the second half. Tonight, we had a tremendous team effort with contributions all over the place. Trevon made some really crucial shots as did Drew, Zach (Wessels) and Jerrod (Walton) and nearly everyone who played,” he said.
Guebert, who was saddled with a pair of early fouls, finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. With 42 points this weekend, Guebert, a junior from Apple Valley, Minn., became the 32nd player in school history to surpass 1,000 career points. And, he has done it in just 69 games. In addition, the junior has 11 straight double digit scoring games dating to a year ago and 48 in his career.
Senior guard Jerrod Walton also reached double digits with 16 points while grabbing six rebounds and dishing three assists. Zach Wessels, who has made 12-of-14 shots this weekend, added 10 points along with eight rebounds and two assists.
A key factor for USF was its work on the boards and the ability to convert free throws. The Cougars, which rank ninth in the country in rebound margin (12.7 RPG), had a commanding 44-to-29 edge on the boards. Of that total, reserve forward Austin Slater, who had five points, including his first career three-pointer, had a game-high nine rebounds, including three off the offensive glass.
With their dominance on the board, USF had a 15-to-4 edge in second chance points, which proved pivotal as the Cougars used their opportunities to sustain drives during their rally.
At the foul line, USF was 29-of-34 with Walton knocking down 10-of-10, Evans converting 10-of-11 and Guebert knocking down 7-of-10. In a game with 47 fouls, USF used a big edge at made free throws (29-to-15).
For the seventh time this season, USF outshot its opponents, hitting 27-of-58 for 46.6 percent while UIU was 27-of-62 for 43.5 percent. The Peacocks were led by Carson Parker who had 27 points before fouling out.
Next for USF will be a road trip north as the Cougars face St. Cloud State on Dec. 8 before heading to Minnesota-Duluth for a game on Dec. 9.
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