Senior forward Laura Johnson led a balanced Cougar attack, scoring a game-high 22 points to go with nine rebounds, as the University of Sioux Falls women’s basketball team defeated Minnesota Crookston, 84-74, Friday night in the Stewart Center.
Johnson went 8-of-15 from the field (6-for-10 on 3’s) and was one of four USF players to finish with double-digit point totals as Alicia Boe added 14 and both sophomore guard Taylor Varsho and junior guard Jaicee Ulmer chipped in with 11 apiece.
The game was tied at 5-5 with 18:00 to play in the first half before USF orchestrated a 12-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 17-5 lead it would not relinquish.
USF never trailed in the contest and took a 43-36 lead into the half. Redshirt freshman Alicia Boe provided a spark for the Cougars off the bench in the first half. The native of Sebeka, Minn., scored 12 of her career-high 14 points—double her previous career-best—in the opening period.
USF came out on fire and opened the half on a 14-4 run capped by a Varsho reverse layup to lead 59-40 at the 14:00 mark. The Cougar advantage swelled to as many as 19 twice in the second, and the Golden Eagles were unable to whittle the deficit down to single digits the rest of the way.
From there, Johnson drilled a pair of three-pointers while Varsho continued to do most of her damage in the paint, scoring nine of her 11 points after the break.
With 1:28 remaining and USF up 82-64, head women’s coach Travis Traphagen emptied his bench.
With the win, USF ran its streak to two in a row and improved to 11-8 on the year and 7-8 in NSIC play. Crookston, meanwhile, fell to 7-12 overall and 4-11 in league action.
As a team, USF hit 48.4 percent from the field (31-of-64), including a 15-of-30 performance in the second half (50.0%), and combined to connect on 13-of-16 free throws. The Cougars' 81.3% shooting clip from the charity stripe was a significant improvement on their season average of 71.4% . Marie Malloy sank all four of her free throw opportunities and finished with six points.
The Cougars out-rebounded Crookston, 35-33, with Johnson taking game-high honors with nine boards. Ulmer led a 15-assist effort with six dimes and added a game-high four thefts. USF converted 21 Golden Eagle turnovers into 26 points and owned a 10-2 advantage in fast break points.
USF will host Bemidji State tomorrow afternoon at 6 p.m.