SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The North Division top-seed, Minnesota Duluth, earned a statement win on Thursday as they powered past USF, 78-64.
“Coming into the season, we just practiced tough and we came together, focused on our team chemistry and work on the small things and I think that is what you saw today,” Minnesota Duluth forward Brooke Olson said. “We’re basically trying to play our best basketball down the stretch in March.”
The Cougars were without their leading scorer Anna Brecht, who was scoring 18 points per game, while Minnesota Duluth had the NSIC leading scorer in Brooke Olson (20 ppg).
“I thought we had some moments and we didn’t quit,” USF head coach Travis Traphagen said. “The last two weeks have been tough with Anna Brecht’s concussion, Dallie’s (Hoskinson) wrist injury, Hannah Jones stepping away from basketball and Megan Fanin getting injured. I mean that all happened in the last two weeks, but no excuses, Duluth is a really good team and they played well.”
The Bulldogs started strong as they hit four of their first six threes and raced out to a 21-9 lead.
Out of a USF timeout, the Cougars were able to find some traction as they outscored UMD 8-2 in the final four minutes of the first quarter.
However, the second quarter was the exact opposite of the first. It was the Cougars who closed the gap to five when Anna Goodhope connected on a three pointer. USF trailed 31-26 with three minutes left in the first half.
That’s when the Bulldogs closed the half on a 9-2 run to take a 40-28 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Minnesota Duluth began to create some separation as they started the half on a 12-2 run, opening a 22 point lead.
“We had to contain them in transition and we did exactly that. We stuck together as a team and we executed,” Olson said.
Late in the third quarter, the Cougars got a eight straight points from Amanda Dagostino, cutting the deficit to 13.
“The thing about her is she plays really hard. She’s one of those seniors that I hope she uses that free year,” Traphagen said. “I was really proud of her and she’s a kid that has had some limited minutes prior to this year, but I would agree that she gave us a chance.”
In the fourth quarter, USF came out as they cut the lead to 66-58, following a crucial Dallie Hoskinson three.
“It was a battle. We jumped out to an early lead, but no lead is safe with Sioux Falls, because as you saw, they made a great run,” Minnesota Duluth head coach Mandy Pearson said. “I was proud of our team when Sioux Falls made that run and started scoring in transition and we found a better way to come together and finish the game.”
Out of a USF timeout, the Bulldogs found their rhythm back as they closed the half on a 12-6 run to claim a 78-64 win over USF.
The NSIC’s leading scorer in Brooke Olson led the way for Minnesota Duluth with an impressive double-double. Her 31 points was a game high, along with her 12 rebounds. Three other Bulldogs added double digits.
“She had a really good game today and everybody gives her their best look,” Traphagen said. “There’s a reason she’s the lone All-American in this conference because she’s good.”
The Cougars were led by Anna Goodhope who tallied 14 points, while Lauren Sanders, Krystal Carlson and Amanda Dagostino all finished in double figures as well.
USF concluded their season at 8-6. Minnesota Duluth will await the winner of Friday’s 10:00 a.m. game between S2 Concordia-St. Paul and N3 Bemidji State.