Trailing by one point with 14 seconds on the clock, the University of Sioux Falls had the ball and one final opportunity to secure their first conference win in a matchup with the Wildcats of Wayne State. Coming out of a timeout the Cougars fired a 3-pointer which would fall short, meaning USF would suffer a heartbreaking 55-53 loss Friday night in Wayne, Neb. A. J. Holland led all scorers with a career-high 21 points for the Cougars.
The Cougars dropped to 4-2 (0-2 NSIC), while the Wildcats picked up their first conference win of the season to improve to 6-1 (1-1 NSIC) in 2012-13.
Wayne State controlled the game in the opening minutes of the first half, but once USF got back into it was a battle to end.
After falling behind by seven three minutes into the game, the Cougars woke up and slowly closed the gap. Near the 11:00 mark, Holland made a huge and one play, converting a layup and free throw to give USF at 14-13 lead, their first of the game.
Six lead changes later, the game was tied 25-25 at the break.
USF came out hot in the second half. Tied 27 all with just under 16:00 to play, the Cougars made their move, sinking five consecutive buckets to take a 37-30 lead over the Wildcats with 11:48 to play.
Wayne State answered, and a Ben Galemmo 3-pointer near the 7:00 mark cut the Wildcats deficit to one. The game would only tighten up from there.
The teams traded baskets and leads, as the crowd saw five lead changes and three ties over in the final minutes.
With 40 seconds on the clock, Holland came up big as he had night. He nailed a 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 53-52 lead. However, on their ensuing possession the Wildcats put the ball in their best player’s hands and he answered.
Army Shelby converted a clutch layup with 14 seconds to go to put Wayne State back up, 54-53. USF had one final shot, but was unable to convert their 3-point attempt, as they were forced to foul which lead to the final score, 55-53.
On paper, USF outplayed their opponent Friday night. They shot 49% compared to 46% by the home team. USF also won the battle on the boards, outscored Wayne State in the paint and shot a higher percentage at the stripe.
The difference was turnovers and the volume of free throw attempts by the Wildcats. Wayne State forced the Cougars into 21 turnovers and made 21 trips to the free throw line.
Shelby led three Wildcats in double-figures. He posted 19 points, while Derrell Williams and Latroy Wright added 12 points each for Wayne State.
Holland was one of two players to tally double-digits for the Cougars. He finished 8-of-15 from the floor and 3-of-6 from behind the arc. Robert Goffney had an efficient night, recording 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor in 23 minutes.
USF returns to Sioux Falls to take on crosstown rival Augustana College Saturday.
Courtesy: Dennis Gamble, USF