SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (USF) – Matt Cartwright, Chase Grinde and Jack Thompson all reached double-digits to lift the University of Sioux Falls Men’s Basketball Team (10-7, 6-5 NSIC) to a 73-47 NSIC cross-divisional win over Minnesota Crookston (6-13, 3-10 NSIC) on Saturday evening (Jan. 22) at the Stewart Center.

In the win, USF Head Coach Chris Johnson picked up his 250th career win and now has 234 at USF. The Cougars retained their hold on fifth place in the NSIC South at 6-5 and stand 10-7 overall. USF, which has won 4-of-5 games, is just one-half game out of fourth place (Winona State, 11-6, 7-5 NSIC) and one game from third (Wayne State (10-7, 7-4 NSIC) in the NSIC South. USF also improved to 10-3 all-time against UMC.

“I thought we had our best defensive performance this weekend as we gave up just 112 points in two games. That is good quality defense by this group,” said Johnson, whose team now heads to St. Cloud State on Friday, Jan. 28 and North leader Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Jan. 29. “I thought we played really well offensively in the second half with multiple guys making plays. We had great rhythm and looked in control on the offensive end,” he said.

Cartwright had 22 points to lead all scorers on the night. He was 8-of-17 from the field, including 5-of-10 from three-point range. Cartwright, who had three steals and three rebounds, has scored 20 or more points eight times at USF and 19 in his career. He also had his 50th career double-digit scoring game and moved to 1,125 career points. USF also had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists from sophomore guard Jack Thompson, who now has 30 double-digit scoring games in his career. Thompson hit 6-of-11 field goals and was 2-of-2 at the foul stripe. Junior forward Chase Grinde added 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal in 29 minutes. He now has 46 double-digit scoring games in his career.

Also for USF, Noah Puetz had nine points and four rebounds while Jake Kettner added six points, a steal and two rebounds.

In the past two games, USF has shut down the opponent’s three-point shooters. Bemidji State hit 6-of-25 for 24 percent and UMC was 5-of-20 for 25 percent. In total, USF’s perimeter defense held the two opponents to 11-of-45 or 24.4 percent.

In several areas, USF held a massive advantage over the Golden Eagles. A lot of it was created from their lockdown defense including a 22-to-5 margin in points off turnovers. That number was created as USF forced 17 turnovers by UMC while committing just seven. Inside the paint, USF had control to a 30-to-18-point edge; and with a 39-to-33 rebound edge, USF had an 11-to-7 margin in second chance points.

After leading just 6-5 after five minutes, USF surged to a 36-26 halftime lead. In the second half, USF broke from a 39-33 lead with 17 minutes left by outscoring the Golden Eagles, 34-to-14. With a 37-21 margin the second half, USF had its second straight big close in picking up an NSIC victory. Against Bemidji State on Friday, USF finished on a 33-12 run to win 72-65.

On the night, USF hit 28-of-64 field goals for 43.8 percent and hit on 8-of-25 from three-point range for 32 percent. USF, which and five steals and 10 assists, made 9-of-11 free throws. UMC, which was led by 13 points from Leonard Dixon and 10 by Zach Westphal, was 18-of-51 from the field for 35.3 percent. They made 6-of-11 from the foul line.

Scoring summary —
In the opening half, USF was able to take a 36-26 lead to the break by hitting on 13-of-29 field goals for 44.8 percent and 3-of-10 from three-point range with 7-of-8 at the foul line. UMC was 9-of-25 for 36 percent and 3-of-10 from distance.

Cartwright hit a pair of triples as USF took a 6-5 lead with 16 minutes to play in the first half. Then, baskets from Kettner and Puetz helped USF to a 10-5 advantage at the 13-minute mark. After UMC gained a tie on a three by Westphal, USF responded with baskets from Puetz and Grinde for a 16-10 lead at the 9:48 mark. UMC battled back on a pair of foul shots from Uzo Dibiamaka to cut the lead to 18-16. USF received four points from Grinde and built a 25-21 advantage with 4:25 to play. With half-closing 11-5 run, the Cougars took a 36-26 lead at the break.

In the second half, UMC opened quickly to cut the advantage to 39-33 with 17 minutes to play. However, USF answered that charge by ripping off a 14-6 run, including four points from Grinde and five by Cartwright, to extend their margin to 53-39 with 10:42 to play.

USF which made 15-of-35 from the field for 42.9 percent and hit on five triples in the second 20 minutes, continued to press their advantage with an 18-6 run as they led by 23 at 68-45 with 4:27 to play. With the matter decided, USF closed on a 5-2 edge to picked up its largest margin of victory (26 points) this season.