By Paul Watley
ST. PAUL, MINN. (February 7, 2014) – It was a tale of two halves defensively for the Cougars on Friday night when they squared off with Concordia-St. Paul at the Gengelhoff Center in St. Paul, Minn. The Cougars used a tenacious first half defensive effort to hold the Golden Bears to 29.4% shooting from the floor. Concordia-St. Paul bounced back in the second half as they shot 59.3% from the field as they defeated the Cougars 78-61.
The Cougars slipped to 12-9 overall and 8-9 in the NSIC, while Concordia-St. Paul improved to 18-6 overall and 13-4 in the conference by notching its seventh consecutive victory.
The Golden Bears used a 12-4 surge in the opening five minutes of the second half to build a 10-point lead and the Cougars were unable to recover. Despite a ten-point second half by Sam Knecht, CU’s lead grew as large as 19 points in the final moments of the game.
Knecht, a 6-2 freshman from Aberdeen, S.D., notched her fifth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. This is Knecht’s second straight game with a double-double. Taylor Varsho and Laura Johnson each helped chip in for the Cougars offensively with ten points each.
USF struggled to find their rhythm offensively as they shot just 33.8% from the field and 25.0% from behind the arc. The Cougars also went 11-of-16 from the free throw line (.688) with all 16 of their free throw attempts coming in the second half.
Anika Whiting led the Golden Bears with 31 points and 9 rebounds, while Rachel Hansen scored 17 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 9 assists. Ameshia Kearney added 12 points for the Golden Bears in the win.
The Cougars looked to pull off the upset in the first half as they built a 13-point lead with just over five minutes left in the first half. However, a late Concordia-St. Paul run in the first half sent the Cougars into the locker room trailing by one-point.
USF rallied in the second half to cut CU’s lead down from 16 points when Sam Knecht was involved in each point of a Cougar 6-0 scoring run. Knecht hit two shots from the charity stripe, made a layup and recorded an assist on a Chrissy Strassburg jumper to cut the Golden Bears lead down to 10 points with just under ten minutes to play. However, that was as close as the Cougars could get in the final minutes of the game.
The Cougars hit just 2-of-11 shots (.182) from behind the arc in the second period while CU went 4-of-7 from downtown in the last 20 minutes of the game.
USF used a strong effort on the boards as they outrebounded the Golden Bears 48-37 in the game, including 17 offensive rebounds to CU’s eight.
The Cougars also struggled to take care of the ball on the offensive end of the floor as they recorded 18 turnovers of their own while only forcing eight against the Golden Bears.
USF continues its four-game NSIC road swing by traveling to Minnesota State on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off between the Cougars and Mavericks at the Taylor Center in Mankato, Minn. is set for 4 p.m.