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Minnesota State 103, USF 101

USF Cougars
USF Cougars

Sioux Falls, SD (KWSN) - Charles Ward had a career night thanks to a stellar second-half performance, but his effort wasn't enough as the upset-minded University of Sioux Falls men’s basketball team fell 103-101 to No. 17 Minnesota State, Mankato Friday night in the Stewart Center.

The junior guard set a career-high with 28 points—20 of which came in the second half. Derek Brown, who entered the weekend needing 43 points to join the USF 1,000 Point Club, scored a career-high 24 points in 26 minutes for the Cougars, who fell to 14-11 overall and 11-10 in the NSIC loop.

Derek Brown set the tone early for the Cougars drilling his first two attempts from beyond the arc as USF sprinted to an 11-2 advantage. But the Mavericks came all the way back to tie the game and take a 20-19 lead on a traditional three-point play at the midway point of the first half. The next five minutes were a back and forth affair that saw four more ties but the Cougars would struggle to sustain anything defensively in the closing minutes of the half, a four minute span that saw MSU go 3-for-3 at the line and 6-for-6 from the floor---including a half court shot at the buzzer to give the Mavericks a 55-45 lead heading into the locker room.

Brown paced the Cougars with 13 points in the first half, while Robert Goffney chipped in 10 on 4-for-5 shooting and also handed out three assists. USF shot 51.6% from the field in the opening session, while the Mavericks connected at a 61.3% clip. The Mavericks also hit 11-of-13 (.846) shots from the line and out-rebounded the Cougars in the frame, 23-7.

The Mavericks maintained their good flow to go for 13 in the first seven-plus minutes of the second half to take their largest lead of the game at 68-55 with a Zach Monaghan layup at the 12:49 mark.

But the Cougars refused to quit and down, down, down went the USF deficit. A pair of Ward free throws combined with a Brown triple cut the Mavericks’ lead to one at 76-75. Maverick Zach Romashko hit a pair at the stripe and swished a three-pointer to move MSU back in front by 6, 81-75, with 6:34 to go.

MSU’s lead swelled back to double-digits with under five minutes to play but USF climbed back into it again by going old, going long and getting going on offense. A Preston Rayburn three-ball made it a five-point game at 95-90 and the Cougars would continue the rally from the stripe, netting eight straight points at the stripe—a skein that included both Ward and Brown going 3-for-3 after being fouled on a three-point attempt—to trail by three, 101-98 with 24 seconds on the clock. The Cougars went to the foul-for-profit tactic and it worked, as Monaghan missed the front end of a double-bonus and Jordan Stotts answered on the other end with a huge three to bring USF to within one at 102-101. MSU’s Tanner Adler was fouled but missed his second attempt and USF had the chance to win or tie when Ward brought down the rebound with seven seconds left. Ward raced down court to try and tie it with a lay up, but his shot rattled out and the No. 17 Mavericks escaped with the victory.

Mahlon Jones added 12 points for USF, while Rayburn chipped in 10 points. The Cougar bench outscored their MSU counterparts by a wide 50-8 margin.

Connor O-Brien led a quintet of Mavericks in double-digits, finishing with a game-high 27 points on a spectacular 10-for-12 shooting effort.

Minnesota State’s quorum on rebounding (41-22 advantage on the glass) came as a result of eight different Mavericks grabbing at least two boards, paced by Assem Marei’s 13 to go with 21 points for the only double-double of the contest.

USF will close out the regular season tomorrow when they host Concordia-St. Paul for Senior Day.

Courtesy: University of Sioux Falls