SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (USF) – With a closing run of 33-12, the University of Sioux Falls Men’s Basketball Team (9-7, 5-5 NSIC) rallied past Bemidji State (6-10, 3-9 NSIC) on Friday (Jan. 21) at the Stewart Center.
The Cougars, which had four players score in double-digits, improved to 9-7 overall and sit 5-5 in the NSIC, with this win moving them into fifth place in the South Division. USF, which will host Minnesota Crookston (6-12, 3-9 NSIC) at 5:30 pm on Saturday also at the Stewart Center. The victory also drew USF within a half-game of fourth place in the NSIC South (Winona State, 6-5).
USF, which now hold a 6-4 series lead over BSU in NSIC play, trailed 53-39 with 13:03 to play. Then, sparked by Cedric Johnson, who had nine of his 12 points in the second half, USF put together their closing run of 33-12.
“First of all, I am really happy with our win tonight against a good Bemidji State team,” said USF Head Coach Chris Johnson, who now has 249 career wins including 233 at USF. “I thought we did a better job of guarding without fouling. I was really happy with our grit and honestly, I feel that we gutted one out tonight. We got a spark from Noah (Puetz) in the first half and Cedric (Johnson) in the second half. We made some big plays down the stretch which helped us earn this win,” he said.
USF, which has won 3-of-4, was led by Matt Cartwright, who was one of four USF players in double-digits. Cartwright scored 18 points and hit a trio of three-pointers while grabbing three rebounds and blocking a shot. He now has 49 double-digit scoring game in his career with 12 this season at USF. The senior from Sioux Falls also moved past 1,100 career points (1,103). Johnson had 12 points as he scored in double-digits for the second time at USF and 10th in his career. He was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field while collecting five rebounds, two steals, an assist and blocked shot in 19 minutes.
Also reaching double-digits for the second time at USF was freshman guard Noah Puetz, who had 10 points with a career-best seven rebounds and hit a pair of triples. Junior guard Chase Grinde added 10 points, two rebounds and two steals. Grinde, who now has 45 career double-digit scoring games, moving past 900 career points (908). In addition, sophomore guard Jack Thompson had nine points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
For the night, USF hit on 25-of-65 shots from the field for 38.5 percent and hit on 7-of-24 from three-point range for 29.2 percent. The Cougars didn’t miss a foul shot and had a 15-to-3 margin in made free throws, a margin which proved critical in their win. While USF was outscored, 36-30, in the paint, the Cougars had a 22-to-8 margin in second chance points as they held a 34-to-33 rebound edge. USF also had a 21-to-12 margin in points off turnovers as they forced 16 by BSU while committing just nine. USF had eight steals and three blocks as their defense played a critical role.
BSU, which held seven leads and led for the final time at 61-59 with 3:28 to play, hit on 28-of-58 field goals for 48.3 percent but could make just 6-of-25 from three-point range for 24 percent. Mohammed Kone led BSU with 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds. John Sutherland added 15 points and Travis Bianco had 13.