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Courtesy: USF Athletics

Cougars Host Warriors and Peacocks This Weekend

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 01/22/2013
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Looking Ahead to the Weekend
USF (8-8, 5-7 NSIC) and Winona State (14-5, 8-4 NSIC) will reconvene for the second meeting between the programs this season. Prior to this year, Sioux Falls had not faced Winona State since the 1996-97 season, when they fell to the Warriors 72-64 on Nov. 23, 1996. WSU took care of Bemidji State (78-41) and Minnesota, Crookston (68-41) at home this past weekend. The Warriors are in the midst of a three-game winning streak. The Cougars will then welcome the Upper Iowa Peacocks (6-13, 3-9 NSIC) to the Stewart Center on Saturday afternoon. The Peacocks enter the weekend having won two straight at home versus Minnesota, Crookston (91-68) and Bemidji State (79-64). Upper Iowa sports a 1-6 mark on the road and have not dented the road-win column since Nov. 22, when they knocked off Alaska-Fairbanks, 85-79.

A Little History

This is the Cougars’ 39th season as a varsity sport, the fifth with head coach Travis Traphagen at the helm.

In the Month of January

USF is 22-16 (.579) all-time in the month of January under Coach Traphagen.

Last Time Out
USF recently suffered a 54-48 loss on the road at Northern State on Saturday. The Cougars hit just 16-of-51 (31%) from the field and 10-of-15 from the free throw line. USF’s six three-pointers kept the Cougars close throughout the contest, but Northern State finished the game hitting 6-of-8 from the stripe over the final minute of play to secure the six-point win.

By the Numbers
0-of-11 The Cougars missed 11 straight shots late in the first half against the Dragons. The shooting slump lasted more than six minutes.
1 Laura Johnson remains the league leader in minutes played (35.7).
2 USF’s rank in the NSIC in three-point field goal defense (27.7%).
3 Consecutive three-pointers drained by Bailey Bouman versus Northern State.
4 Times in fifth-year head coach Travis Traphagen’s tenure that USF has had a 3-game  
   losing streak. The Cougars have lost three games in a row.
6 Bailey Bouman’s NSIC ranking in 3-point field goal percentage (42.4%).
9-to-1 Cougars’ steal advantage versus the Wolves.
11 Cougar turnovers at Northern State, which tied a season-low.
73 Consecutive starts for Laura Johnson

Junior forward Laura Johnson collected the 400th rebound of her career with a team-high eight boards vs. MSU-Moorhead. Johnson ranks eighth in the NSIC with 7.9 rebounds per game.

Senior center Kelli Hoff netted the 100th point of her career against the MSU-Moorhead Dragons. She chipped in four points in 16 minutes off the bench.

The Cougars are 7-0 when scoring at least 70 points.

Shying Away from the Paint
Lately, the Cougars have been struggling inside and around the basket. They were outscored in the paint 30-18 by Winona State and were held to a single paint bucket, a Teagan Molden layup, at Northern State. USF averaged 19.7 three-point attempts per game entering last weekend but put up 21 three-ball attempts against both Moorhead and Northern State, hitting 16-of-42 (38%).

Dish Network
The Cougars have handed out 10 or more assists in 12 of 16 games this season, highlighted by a 22-assist game vs. Nebraska Wesleyan, where USF made 29 field goals.

Bench Production
USF’s bench and depth has been a key to its success this season as the Cougars have outscored the opponent’s bench in 12 of 16 contests. USF currently holds a 435-293 edge on its opponents this season and has twice scored 40 bench points – in the wins over Nebraska Wesleyan and Southwest Minnesota State. A total of 12 players are averaging double-digit minutes for the Cougars this season and the bench has accounted for 43 percent (435 of 1,006 points) of the team’s scoring.

Stronger Signal From Long Distance
USF opened the 2012-13 season colder than dry ice from beyond the arc, as the Cougars connected on just 44 of their first 170 three-point attempts (25.8%) in their first eight games. The Cougars’ paws have warmed up; USF has gone 62-of-148 from beyond the arc in their last eight games. USF drained 13 of 21 (61.9%) three-point attempts in their last game of 2012, a 77-64 home win versus previously undefeated Minnesota State, Mankato.

Scouting Winona State
The Warriors enter the weekend at 14-5 with an 8-4 mark in league play. Three Winona State players are currently scoring in double figures, led by Becca Friestleben’s 17.3 points per game. Katie Wolff is chipping in 11.9 points and Michelle Tobin has recently upped her average to 10.1 points.

The Last Time They Met (Jan. 5, 2013)
Sioux Falls’ defensive strategy was working to perfection until Katie Wolff stepped up for Winona State. The senior scored 16 of her 23 points in the second half to lead the to a 47-44 victory over the visiting Cougars. For the second game in a row, the Cougars struggled with turnovers (22) and from the charity stripe, where they went just 6-for-11 (54.5%). After the Cougars took their largest lead of the game at 37-28 with 13:22 remaining in the game, Wolff scored 10 straight points, sparking a 13-0 run that put the Warriors in control. Laura Johnson led the Cougars with 13 points on 4-for-4 shooting with eight rebounds.

Downtown Duo

Friestleben and Wolff are 1-2 in the NSIC in three point field goals made and have combined for 120 three-pointers on a 45.8% clip (120-of-262). Friestleben also owns the league’s top 3-point percentage (47.7%) and has destroyed the bottom of nets, filling the basket with 72 three-balls through the Warriors’ first 19 games. Through Jan. 17, she sits second nationally with a 3.47 3’s made per game average. Wolff has 48 three-balls to her credit and is currently ranked 52nd in the nation (2.47).
Winona State boasts the NSIC’s best team three-point field goal percentage of 42.3 percent.

Tops in the League

Winona State leads the NSIC in scoring defense, allowing just 51.9 points per game and in rebounding defense (33.7). The Warriors are also rock solid at the stripe and boast the league’s best team free throw percentage of 79 percent. WSU owns the NSIC’s second-best scoring margin (+16.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22).

60 is the Magic Number

Winona State is 13-2 this season when holding its opponents to fewer than 60 points. Its only two losses have come at the hands of then-No. 6 Augustana, 56-47 (12/14) and at Minot State, 59-57 (1/12). Winona State has held 15 of its first 19 opponents to under 60 points on the season.

Coach Trap vs. the Hawkeye State
The Cougars are 18-17 (.500) against Iowa-based schools since Coach Traphagen took the helm at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. The majority of those contests were against a quartet of former GPAC rivals; Morningside College, Briar Cliff, Dordt College and Northwestern College. The Cougars went 1-0 against the Hawkeye State last season, posting a 10-point victory at Upper Iowa on Nov. 22.

What Upper Iowa Has Done
UIU struggled early in league play and dropped its first six NSIC contests by an average of 17 points. But, the Peacocks will head into the weekend with momentum having swept a weekend homestand against Minnesota, Crookston (91-68) and Bemidji State (79-64). It is the first time that Upper Iowa has won consecutive NSIC games since the 2007-08 season; the Peacocks notched back-to-back home victories over the University of Mary (1/25/08, 64-58) and Northern State (1/26/08, 80-59). A member of the NSIC since 2006, Upper Iowa has never won three NSIC games in a row.

The Peacocks are also looking for their first NSIC road victory in more than four years. Upper Iowa picked up its last league victory away from Fayette, Iowa on December 13, 2008--a 73-60 verdict at Bemidji State.

USF and Upper Iowa shared no mutual non-conference opponents.

Upper Iowa completed one of the most intriguing non-conference slates in the NSIC. The Peacocks opened the season with a 75-67 win against Ashford University before dropping back-to-back contests to a pair of NCAA D-I squads, Northern Iowa and Drake University. After posting a thrilling 82-77 overtime win at home versus William Jewell College, the Peacocks were caged by Wisconsin-Parkside but bounced back with a 65-57 victory against Grand View University. The Peacocks then traveled north to the Last Frontier State, where they upended tournament host Alaska-Fairbanks but suffered defeats at the hands of Winona State and Anderson University (S.C.).

Upper Iowa ranks in the bottom third in the NSIC in most statistical categories.

They are ranked 15th in scoring defense, 14th in scoring margin, 10th in three-point field goal defense, 13th in rebounding offense, 11th in blocked shots and last (16th) in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio.

One bright spot is that the Peacocks have improved their scoring offense considerably in recent weeks; they have moved up from 15th to 7th in the NSIC with an average of 66.5 points per game.

Upper Iowa is the league’s fifth-best team from the charity stripe, at 74.6 percent.

Sophomore Sensation
UIU sophomore guard Whitney Kieffer is putting up 18.8 points per game to stand as the
top scorer in the NSIC. Kieffer has tallied 25 or more points in four games this season, including a career-best 31 against William Jewell. Her 358 total points this season is also a league-high mark. Kieffer is ranked in five NCAA D-II statistical categories: PPG (33rd), RPG (241st), steals (21st), field goal % (141st) and free throw % (55th).

Last Time They Met: Johnson Leads Cougars to Victory (1/04/13)

Despite a season-high 28 turnovers and shooting just 56-percent from the stripe, Sioux Falls found its bearings when it mattered most. Trailing Upper Iowa for most of the night, the Cougars closed with a 13-7 run to pull out the thrilling 70-68 victory at the Dorman Gymnasium in Fayette, Iowa. Laura Johnson’s scoring ability and a series of late defensive stops helped the Cougars escape with the conference victory. In her 69th consecutive start, the junior guard once again provided an offensive spark, lighting up the scoreboard for a game-high 24 points on 8-for-17 shooting, including 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. None proved more important than the final two, when she converted a pair of free throws to give USF its first lead of the game at 68-67 with three minutes left in the contest. Johnson also hauled in a game-best 15 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.

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