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MBK: Johnson Drops 29 as USF Tops Concordia, 97-84

February 7, 2014, 11:11 PM

MBK: Johnson Drops 29 as USF Tops Concordia, 97-84
ST. PAUL, MN -

ST. PAUL, MINN. (February 7, 2014)  Behind a career-high 29 points from Mack Johnson, Sioux Falls defeated Concordia-St. Paul, 97-84, on Friday night in the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul, Minn.

USF (12-9, 9-8 NSIC) shot 12-of-20 from three-point range as a team, using the dribble-drive to effectively penetrate the Concordia-St. Paul (7-14, 4-13) defense and create open shots on the perimeter.

Johnson, who grew up in the Twin Cities suburb of Roseville, made all seven of his three-pointers to tie a program single game record held by Jack Ridway.

“You could tell it was home for Mack,” said head coach Chris Johnson in his postgame radio interview. “We joked that he’d be real comfortable seeing that he’s played in this gym so many times during summer leagues, and 7-for-7 from three is a nice night.”

The Cougar guard trio of Johnson, Mahlon Jones (20) and Charles Ward (17) carried the majority of the scoring load for the Cougars, combining for 63 of USF's 97 points.

Junior center Bryan Kielpinski recorded his first double-double of the season (and third overall for USF), finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Jordan Stotts added 13 points.

The Cougars capitalized on 10 steals and 14 Golden Bear turnovers and went 6-for-6 at the line in the minutes to put the game out of reach for Concordia.

In a back-and-forth start to the game, Concordia utilized a combined 11 points from the dynamic duo of Terez VanPelt (26 points) and Travon Mitchell (28) to lead by four, 14-10, at the 13:30 mark of the first half. Johnson hit back-to-back 3’s off assists from Jones and Derek Brown to tie the game at 22-all.

Johnson and Jones teamed up for a 12-2 Cougar run that started at the stripe with 8:40 to play and was capped by a fall-away jumper more than two minutes later.

USF led by as many as 10 points in the first half, but Concordia whittled that down to a 44-41 halftime lead.

It took the Cougars all of 40 seconds to triple their lead out of the break, as Jones and Johnson each buried a three-pointer to give USF a 50-41 lead at the 19:20 mark.  USF went up 79-62, their largest lead of the night, when Ward jumped in front of a Golden Bear pass and pushed it ahead to Jones, who found Stotts for a three-pointer with 7:26 left in the game.  

But Concordia chipped away at that lead and cut it to eight points at the two minute mark before Stotts knocked down another three-pointer to advance the Cougar lead to 11 before USF closed out Concordia at the free throw line.

Senior guards Derek Brown and Robert Goffney each went 2-for-2 at the stripe to finish with two points. Brown has now made 50-of-52 free throw attempts this season.

“Lots of guys did well and it nice to see us win when we didn’t get a big effort from the bench with Rob & Derek only scoring four points,” said Johnson. “We’ve got to learn how to close a little bit but any road win, two road wins in a row and moving above .500 in the league is big.

“We’re going into tomorrow night feeling good before what will be a huge challenge against Mankato.”

The Cougars improved to 9-0 this season and 82-15 all-time under sixth-year coach Chris Johnson when leading at the half. 

The Bears dominated USF on the offensive glass, 16-9 and held a 39-36 rebounding advantage. The Concordia bench outscored USFs bench, 33-4. Concordia finished 37-for-45 at the line (82.2%), while the Cougars made 25 of 32 attempts. 

USF will square off against No. 21 Minnesota State tomorrow at 6 p.m. in the Taylor Center.

- Stephanie Pendrys, USF.

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