The Cougars got 23 points from Charles Ward and Rob Goffney had a near-perfect night as the University of Sioux Falls men bounced back from Friday’s loss to rival Augustana by topping Wayne State 95-83 before a sparse crowd at Rice Auditorium in Wayne, Neb.
Jordan Stotts added 15 points as the Cougars (6-8 NSIC, 9-9 overall) won for the first time away from the Stewart Center this season.
“I’m really proud of how our guys bounced back from a tough night,” said head men’s coach Chris Johnson. “We had five or six guys play really well offensively and we found the hot hand.”
“We needed to be better with our execution down the stretch, but I’m really happy for our guys,” he added.
Ward also handed out five assists, while Goffney scored 22 points, his best output since getting a career-high 23 against Grand View in the third game of the season. He set the pace with 12 points in the first half, including a long three-pointer right before the shot clock expired to turn a eight-point game into a 11-point game. The senior guard wound up hitting 7 of 8 from the field (4-for-4 on threes) with his only miss coming on his last attempt.
Derek Brown (13) and Bryan Kielpinski (12) rounded out a quintet of Cougars in double-digits.
The Cougars missed their first five shots and had one turnover in the opening two minutes and were down 7-6 at the 16:14 mark. Brown’s first of three three-pointers erased the deficit and USF never trailed again. The Cougars took a nine-point lead into the halftime at 42-33 and out-scored the Wildcats 18-9 in the first five minutes of the second half to double their halftime advantage.
A pair of Ward free throws gave the Cougars their largest lead of the game at 76-46.
Wayne State trailed, 83-57, with 6:37 to play, but hung around and gradually crept closer throughout the second half. A fastbreak layup from former Sioux Falls Rough Rider Adol Aluong sparked a 13-0 run that pulled the Wildcats to within 13 at 83-70. Goffney stopped the run at the free throw line and another Brown triple tipped things back in the Cougars’ favor, but the Wildcats refused to go quietly. Joel Heesch’s fall-away jumper cut USF’s lead to single digits, 90-81, at the 1:26 mark.
That early second half run by the Cougars loomed too large in the end, though, and USF did enough in the later stages of the game to hold the Wildcats at bay.
After going an anemic 2-for-23 from deep (8.7%) in last night’s 41-point loss to Augustana, the Cougars hit 11 of 19 threes tonight for a 57.9% clip. Brown went 3-for-6 from deep to move into 4th all-time in USF history with 165 career triples.
Stotts added a team-high seven rebounds as the Cougars out-worked Wayne State on the boards by an impressive 36-20 margin. The aggression allowed them to make frequent trips to the line; USF was 24-for-31 at the line and the Cougars created five and-one opportunities. Brown, the NSIC leader in free throw percentage finished a perfect 4-for-4 and is now 39-for-40 at the stripe (97.5%).
The Cougar bench outscored the Wildcat reserves, 37-23. USF scored 30 points in the paint, two fewer than Wayne State, and are now 7-0 this season when leading at halftime.
Wayne State (8-10, 5-9 NSIC) has lost three straight and four of their last five league contests, The Wildcats got 21 points from Ryan Rolfzen and 20 from Aluong.
USF will host Minnesota Crookston and Bemidji State next weekend.
Courtesy: Stephanie Pendrys, USF