Laura Johnson had another solid effort for the Sioux Falls women, but the Cougars (1-1) lost on the road to Nebraska-Kearney 54-45 in an overtime slugfest on Wednesday night at the Health and Sports Center in Kearney, Neb.
Johnson dominated in her first double-double of the season, with 14 points and 12 rebounds, adding a game-high six assists and three rebounds in 44 minutes of action. It wouldn’t be enough, as the Cougars ran out of gas at the end and were outscored 12-3 in overtime.
Junior transfer Mikenna Greathouse just missed her first career double-dip, posting eight points and 10 boards off the bench. Jaicee Ulmer added nine points and five rebounds. Alyssa Rushton chipped in six points, all from the charity stripe.
It sure wasn’t a pretty game, with 34 combined turnovers, and the Cougars were held to 23.6 percent from the floor and 19 percent from three-point range. The Lopers didn’t fare much better, as they were limited to 28.3 percent shooting and just 18.8 percent from beyond the arc.
UNK’s bench contributed in a big way as 22 of the team’s points came from nonstarters, while the Cougars got 20 points from their reserves.
The first half was a defensive struggle and neither side gained any kind of momentum in the first half, with three ties and three lead changes. A Johnson lay-up broke up a 12-12 tie with 7:13 left. After back-to-back-to-back turnovers, a 3-pointer by Johnson opened up a 5-point lead for USF and the Cougars would head to the locker room up 21-16.
Frigid second-half shooting cost the Cougars, as they missed their first 10 shots and the Lopers picked up five points in the first two minutes to tie the game at 21-21. A free throw coupled with a Shelby Zimmerman lay-up made it 24-21 UNK with 15:31 left to play. The squads traded buckets before the Lopers stretched their lead to five points with less than 10 minutes remaining.
USF battled back with a basket in the paint by Greathouse on the next possession. After Chrissy Strassburg hauled down the defensive board, a Bailey Bouman shot from distance tied the game at 32 with just under nine minutes remaining.
USF went ahead by four points with a pair of free throws by Ulmer and another Greathouse jumper but the Lopers kept pace at tied it at 38 with 2:44 on the clock. Johnson, on an assist by Bouman, made a trey with two minutes left to put USF back in the lead and Greathouse went 1-for-2 from the stripe to give the Cougars a 42-38 edge with 1:17 left.
Two free throws by Zimmerman got the Lopers back to 42-40. The junior was also responsible for UNK’s late heroics, for it was she that collected the rebound board and hit a lay-up with one second left to send the game into overtime.
It was not much of a contest in the extra period, as the Lopers scored the first six points and held off the Cougars for the 54-45 victory.
Free throws didn’t come easy for the Cougars as they only knocked down 15-of-25 chances from the stripe. The Lopers held a 49-46 edge in rebounds.
The Cougars will return home to host Mayville State on Tuesday, Nov. 20.