The Sioux Falls women's basketball team found points tough to come by down the stretch Friday night in a 61-48 loss at No. 15 Wayne State College.
The win was the 50th consecutive home victory for the Wildcats.
The Cougars (4-2, 1-1 NSIC) connected on just 8 of 35 shots and scored 23 points over the final 20 minutes as the Wildcats (4-1, 1-1 NSIC) snatched away their bid for a fourth straight win.
Junior forward Laura Johnson scored seven of the Cougars’ second-half points and finished with 22 on the day to lead all scorers and pulled down 11 boards for her third double-double of the season. She shot 6-for-15 from the floor and was 8-for-8 from the stripe.
Jordan Spencer (19 points, 5 rebounds) and Ashton Yossi (15 points, 9 rebounds) led the Wildcats.
The Wildcats, which hit just three 3-pointers in the game, made a point of driving the ball into the lane and managed to get to the free throw line for 32 attempts, though they made just 22 of them.
The Cougars were whistled for 25 fouls in the contest to 17 for the Wildcats. The Wildcats out-rebounded the Cougars, 44-42. The Cougar bench was outscored 15-12, moving USF to 0-2 when losing the bench point battle.
Spencer put the Wildcats up early 4-0 with back-to-back buckets. A transition layup by Alyssa Rushton after Johnson stuffed a three-point attempt by Addy Roller put the Cougars on the board at the 18:14 mark. Johnson then created her own shot, throwing up another block and sprinting down the court to drain a three-pointer on a dish from Chrissy Strassburg to put the Cougars in front 5-4. Wayne State matched with a trey and USF tied it at 7-7 on a 12-footer by Mikenna Greathouse.
The next two minutes belonged to Johnson, as she tallied seven straight points to double up the Wildcats 14-7 and force a Wayne State timeout at the 15:01 mark.
Out of the break, the Wildcats returned the favor with a 7-0 run to tie the game and bring about the USF timeout with 12:47 left in the half.
Wayne State cashed in on one of USF 15 total turnovers on the next possession to retake the land drained a trey 20 second later to stretch their lead to 19-14. Rushton ended the Wildcats’ run at 12-0 with a baseline jumper. Bailey Bouman then picked Kara Powell’s pocket and pushed the ball to Johnson, who was fouled on a gimme layup and hit the free throw to tie the game at 19-19 with 10:09 left in the half.
The Wildcats caught fire again and ended the half on a 13-6 run to take a 32-25 lead into the locker room.
The Cougars took advantage of a slow second half start by the Wildcats (3-for-11) and saw points from four different players during a 15-8 spurt that gave USF a 40-39 advantage with 11:01 remaining.
It would stand as USF’s last lead in the contest. The Cougars went ice-cold, shooting just 2-for-20 the rest of the way (10%) and committing three turnovers in less than a minute.
Wayne State grabbed control of the game with a two-minute, 8-0 run that put the home team in front 47-40. USF was unable to trim the deficit to less than five points and the Wildcats went 3-for-4 from the stripe in the final two minutes before a tip-in with three seconds left created the final margin.
The Cougars shot 25% from the floor (15-for-60) while the Wildcats connected at a 34.5% (18-for-52) clip. USF’s struggles from beyond the arc continued, as the team went 3-for-15 from three point range.
Rushton finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Amber Paden, who suited up for the first time since suffering an knee injury in the Cougars’ season opener, chipped in four points, eight rebounds, five blocks and two steals in 25 minutes of action.
The Cougars will be in action again tomorrow, as they make the one-mile trek to Augustana College. Tip-off against the Vikings is slated for 4 p.m.