The University of Sioux Falls squeezed out a 73-66 victory at Concordia-St. Paul University Saturday night in the 2012-13 regular season finale. Ahead by as many as 24 points in the second half, USF allowed the Golden Bears to pull within four points of their lead with 30 seconds left on the clock. However when it came to crunch time, the Cougars were able to get a pair of key defensive stop and convert their free throws to seal the win.
The win secured a seventh place NSIC south finish for USF, who moved to 12-14, 8-14 in league play this season.
Seniors A.J. Holland and James Rader combined to score 31 for the Cougars tonight. Rader recorded his second double-double of the year with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Holland was nearly perfect on the game, missing his first shot in the final two minutes of the game. He finished 6-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-3 from downtown for a team-high 17 points and six boards.
The Cougars completely dominated the first half.
Scoring the game’s first 10 points allowed USF to claim a quick 10-0 lead at the 16:30 mark. USF would only add to their lead throughout the remainder of the half.
The epitome of a team effort, all nine cougars that saw action scored at least two points, as USF shot at an impressive 59 percent clip in the first half. Their hot shooting and balanced scoring resulted in a 45-29 halftime lead in the Cougars’ favor.
Specifically, Holland and Rader played a big part in USF’s first half success. Shooting 4-of-4 from the field, Holland was perfect in the opening half and led all scorers with 13 points. Rader’s numbers weren’t too shabby either. He entered the break with 10 points and seven rebounds.
USF continued to control the game through the initial five minutes of the second half, going ahead by as many as 24 points at the 15:53 mark. However, the Golden Bears, who have been known for their comebacks lately, weren’t done.
With 14 unanswered, the Golden Bears rallied to within six of the Cougars, 62-56, with 4:19 to play. In total, USF was held scoreless from the 9:57 mark until there was 4:01 left in the game. David Maxwell broke the Cougars’ drought with a timely post move to make it 64-56.
Despite Concordia’s valiant effort, USF would hold them off for just their second road win of the season.
Tonight marked the fifth time the Cougars shot sub-50 percent from the floor this season, and the fifth time they’ve won while accomplishing such a feat. USF also recorded single-digit turnovers (9) for the third time in four games.
USF’s bench, who has been a key piece of their equation all season long, topped Concordia’s reserves 24-13.
As the No. 7 seed, the Cougars will travel to Northern State University Wednesday, February 27 for the first round of the NSIC/Sanford Health Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Courtesy: Dennis Gamble, USF