No. 18 USF women use big fourth quarter to take down Augustana

SIOUX FALLS— The No. 18 University of Sioux Falls Women's Basketball team made their 2020 debut in Sioux Falls, albeit a road game against Augustana, a successful venture. In a close contest for the first half, the Cougars used a 17-3 run from the end of the third quarter into the fourth to erase a 13-point deficit late in the third quarter to beat Augustana, 76-72, at the Sanford Pentagon in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Basketball action.

With the win, the Cougars improved to 13-2 overall, and 6-2 and first place in the NSIC South. The Cougars, which defeated Augustana for a third straight time, picked up their fourth straight win as Augusta Thramer, Kiara James and Mariah Szymanski all came up big for the Cougars. Next Friday, USF will face Minnesota State at the Stewart Center in a battle of two teams tied at the top of the South Division standings.

The Numbers-
Thramer, a senior from South Sioux City, Neb., tied her career-high with 20 points while James set her career-best. Thramer had a near-perfect day, making the only three-pointer she attempted, 7-for-8 from the charity stripe, and 6-for-9 from the field. She also added four rebounds and two steals in 23 minutes on the floor.

James, a sophomore center from Lakeville, Minn., surpassed her career-high of seven points against Chaminade earlier this season with eight points (4-for-7 from the field). She also had four rebounds, an assist and a steal in 14 minutes on the floor. As for Szymanski, she recorded her 44th career-double-digit scoring game with 14 points as she was 4-of-7 from the field and 2-of-5 from 3-point range. Szymanski, who hit all four of her free throws, had two rebounds, and a steal. Szymanski moved closer to reaching the 1,000 point mark in her career, with her 19 total points this weekend placing her at 973 points in her career in the purple and white. USF also had 10 points from Kaely Hummel who reached double digits for the 78th time in her career. She now has 1,453 career points. USF also had nine points anda seven boards from senior Jacey Huinker.

As a team, the Cougars were nearly identical to Augustana in terms of shooting percentage, with the Cougars shooting 43.9 percent (25-of-57) compared to the Vikings' 47.6 percent (30-of-63). The Vikings started hot, shooting 60 percent (9-for-15) and finished the first half shooting 57 percent. In the second half, they were 13-of-33 while USF made 14-of-28 shots for 50 percent.

The Cougars countered the hot start by Augustana with hot finish, shooting 64.3 percent (9-for-14) in the final 10 minutes. Including their final four shot attempts of the third quarter, USF outscored the Vikings, 40-32, in the final two quarters, which including a game-deciding 27-16 margin in the fourth quarter. Key to the USF win was a 39-30 rebound edge plus they had a 39-31 margin in bench points.
The Game-
In the opening five minutes of the contest, Sioux Falls and Augustana fought tooth and nail, with the Vikings getting the upper hand. The Vikings were able to take a four-point lead on two occasions. Szymanski hit a jumper to tie the game up for the fifth time (17-17) in the first quarter. The Vikings finished with a 4-0 run to close the quarter, leading 21-17.

With 6:16 left in the second quarter, Augustana tied their highest lead at the time at eight (32-24). The Cougars were able to get back to within one score of the Vikings off a pair of Thramer free throws. Again, Thramer came in with another crucial jumper, getting the Cougars within one of the Vikings. Janelle Shiffler of the Vikings hit a last second three to put Augustana ahead 40-36 heading into the locker room.

The Vikings took control of the first eight and a half minutes of the third quarter, getting their lead up to 13 a three-pointer with 1:33 left. The Cougars were able to get things rolling just 10 seconds later when Szymanski drew a foul and made both of the subsequent free throws. James and Szymanski both made shots from the field to extend the run to 6-0 and make it a 56-49 Vikings lead heading into the final 10 minutes.

To start the fourth quarter, graduate student Jacey Huinker and James hit a pair of jumpers to push it to an 8-0 run, and cutting the Cougars' deficit to five (56-51). James made the most crucial basket of the game for USF, a jumper that put the Cougars ahead for the first time since the first quarter. The Cougars were able to hold off pushes from the Vikings in order to secure the victory and weekend sweep.