USF women advance to the NSIC tournament with overtime win over SMSU


SIOUX FALLS – With three players scoring 20 or more points, including a career-high and first career double double from junior forward Krystal Carlson (28 pts, 17 rebs), the University of Sioux Falls Women’s Basketball Team (8-5, 8-5 NSIC) grabbed on overtime win, 88-83, over SMSU (9-5, 7-5 NSIC) on Sunday (Feb. 21) to secure a spot in the NSIC Sanford-Health Postseason Tournament. 

With the victory in a “win and advance” game, USF earned the No. 4 seed in the NSIC South and will face No. 1 seed in the North, Minnesota Duluth at 10 am on Thursday, Feb 25 in the NSIC Sanford-Health Postseason Tournament at the Pentagon. Due to the pandemic, the NSIC determined that the top four teams in each division would advance unlike past years when all teams in the league earn a shot after the regular season.

For USF, this is its sixth straight year of advancing to the tournament at the Pentagon. They have reached the NSIC semifinals five straight tournaments.

“If there is anybody I wouldn’t want to play again it is SMSU. They just do a tremendous job of putting their players in spots. I have tremendous respect for Head Coach Tom Webb,” said Traphagen, who earned his 251st career win as USF now has had winning seasons in seven straight years. “Today was just a fistfight. They took it to us in the later part of the third quarter and fourth quarter yesterday. And, honestly, we came out and fought and neither team gave up. We had a couple of chances to put the game away but they made plays. It was a great battle and I am so proud of our players for make the plays down the stretch and making the tournament,” he said. 

On Sunday, USF and SMSU were battled for the fourth seed after the Mustangs won on Saturday. With just a half game separating the two teams, the winning squad advanced with a win and the losing team had its season draw to a close. USF improved to 8-5 overall and SMSU fell to 9-5 overall but 7-5 in the South and a half-game behind USF.

Carlson, who registered her first career-double double had the best game of her career and one of the best by a post player in recent memory at USF. With a career-high 28 points, she hit 12-of-18 shots and all four of her free throws. She also had a career-best 17 rebounds in her 38 minutes on the court. That total included seven offensive and 10 defensive rebounds with her 17 boards, placing her in a tie for third place for most rebounds grabbed in a game in USF’s DII history. Carlson holds third place with Sam Knecht, who had 17 rebounds against Augustana on January 24, 2014. On top of that, it’s the most rebounds grabbed in a game by a Cougar since Knecht had 19 rebounds against Augustana on February 10, 2017.   

“We made a little adjustment for Krystal (Carlson). She had a great game. It wasn’t just her shooting. In the first half, she kept so many balls alive for us. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She was phenomenal for us today,” added Traphagen.

The Cougars also received 22 points from junior guard Anna Brecht, who has now had seven games where she scored 20 points or more. Brecht, who finished the regular season with 12 double-digit games in 13 play, had a solid night from behind the line, knocking down all eight of her free-throws, including some important free-throws in overtime that helped the Cougars grab the win. Brecht shot 6-of-15 from the floor for 40 percent, and hit two of her four three-pointers attempts for a solid 50 percent. Brecht also grabbed six rebounds and dished out one assist. 

Goodhope was the third USF player with 20 points and also grabbed six rebounds. Goodhope now has eight 20-point scoring games in her career, and played a solid 41 minutes for USF. She knocked down some crucial shots towards the end of the game to help the Cougars to the win. Goodhope shot a solid 50 percent from the floor, hitting 8-of-16, while also knocking down two of her five three-point attempts. She hit 2-of-3 from the line, dished five assists, and grabbed one steal. 

In the overtime victory, the Cougars and Mustangs traded leads with SMSU’s largest advantage with four points at 66-62 and USF’s largest margin at 32-21 in the first half. Overall, the Cougars shot 42.1 percent from the field on 32-of-76 shooting. SMSU was 29-of-72 for 40.3 percent.  

The Mustangs outscored the Cougars from behind the arc, hitting 8 of their 27 attempts, while USF only hit five triples. USF’s rebound margin of 49-40 proved important as the Cougars used that to build a 24-15 advantage in second chance points. USF also had a 21-7 margin in points off turnovers and with its fast break outscored SMSU, 20-6. 

USF, which scored a season-high 88 points, have scored over 80 points five times this season. With the win over SMSU, the Cougars have won 15-of-18 games contested between the teams in the DII era.   

USF vs SMSU Breakdown – USF rallies to win
In a first quarter that was back-and-forth, the Cougars jumped to an early 14-7 lead, and after a 12-2 run by SMSU, the Mustangs had a 19-16 lead. Carlson, who had eight points, hit a couple of shots to key a 9-0 closing run to the quarter for a 25-19 advantage. USF hit 10-of-19 field goals for 52 percent and made a pair of threes to aid the cause.

In the second quarter, Brecht hit a three – her second of the game – as USF jumped to a 30-21 lead with 8:26 to play. Carlson’s jumper provided USF with a 32-21 lead, its largest advantage of the game, at the 7:50 mark.  SMSU responded with seven straight points to cut the lead to 32-28 (4:16) as the Cougars didn’t score for over three minutes.

 Then Brecht made a pair of free throws and James scored inside for a 36-30 lead. Jenna Borchers made a three and Meleah Reinhart, who tied Carlson for a game-high with 28 points, converted a basket as SMSU cut the lead to 36-35 with two minutes to play. At the break, USF clung to a 38-37 lead. 

After opening over 50 percent from the field, USF struggled in the second quarter and made just 5-of-19 field goals for 26.3 percent. Overall in the half, USF hit 15-of-38 for 39.5 percent. The Cougars struggled from three-point range with just 3-of-11 shooting, however, Carlson had a double-double by halftime with 10 points and 10 rebounds.  Brecht also had 10 points for USF. 

SMSU hit 7-of-17 shots in both quarters and was 14-of-34 (41.2 percent) for the half with 4-of-12 from deep. USF’s advantage of 25-21 in rebounds proved valuable in the first half. Reinhart led SMSU with 14 points. 

Both teams scored 16 points in the third quarter as USF held a 54-53 lead at the break. USF hit just 5-of-17 field goals for 29.4 percent but made 6-of-6 foul shots. Two foul shots from Carlson with 30 seconds left gave USF the one-point edge. SMSU was 7-of-14 from the field but made just one three and one free throw.
In the fourth quarter, Reinhart opened with a three to give SMSU a 56-54 advantage.  Carlson answered with a basket to tie the game at 56 with 8:51 to play but Reinhart again hit a three for a 59-56 lead at the 8:36 mark.

A lay-up from Abuk Akoi helped SMSU to a 63-60 lead. After USF trailed by four, Goodhope and Carlson had baskets to tie the game at 66 with 3:28 to play. Goodhope’s lay-up with 2:48 to play helped USF to a 68-67 lead. With 1:19 left after an offensive rebound, Brecht was fouled and made a pair of foul shots. Goodhope made a three but SMSU hit one in the closing seconds to force overtime. 

Late in the game, a three from Lauren Sanders – the 114th of her career – helped USF to an 80-75 lead. But SMSU battled back to cut the lead to 80-79 before Goodhope hit two foul shots for an 82-79 edge. With 42 seconds left, Brecht reached 20 points with two foul shots as USF led, 84-79. Reinhart knocked down two free throws at the 0:33 mark to bring SMSU within three. But with eight seconds left, Sadie Stelter, who had 23 points, hit a three to force overtime with the teams tied at 73.

In overtime, the Cougars used a 15-10 advantage to earn the win. Brecht and Dagostino each hit two free-throws for the Cougars to seal the deal late and give USF the hard-fought win and extended their season.

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