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Senior forward Skyler Bloch posted his fifth double-double this season with 24 points and 10 rebounds
Courtesy: USF Athletics

USF Falls to Lindenwood in Transitional Championship, 85-75

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 03/03/2012
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The impact of playing three games in three days was apparent today, as the University of Sioux Falls gave a well-rested Lindenwood Univeristy basketball team all it could handle before falling to the Lions, 85-75, Saturday afternoon in the 2012 NCAA Transitional Tournament championship. The loss snaps an eight game winning streak, giving USF a final record of 20-9 on the year and Lindenwood an impressive mark of 28-3.

Kramer Soderberg and the Lions took advantage of a sluggish start by the Cougars, controlling the lead through the first 12 minutes of the game, where they were ahead by as many as nine points.

However a smart line-change by coach Johnson near the 12 minute mark provided USF some much needed energy off the bench. He found it in David Maxwell and Skyler Bloch, who began taking turns carrying the squad on the offensive side of the court to put USF back in the game. The Cougars would claim their first lead of the contest with just under eight to play and carry a 38-37 advantage into the locker room.

USF's first half comeback was a result of the Cougars ability to outshoot Lindenwood from behind the arc, where they held an 5-2 advantage, and their mismatch in the frontcourt, which Maxwell and Bloch exploited, combining for more than half (20 points) of USF's first half total.

The Cougars came out strong in the opening minutes of the second half and quickly stretched their lead to eight by the 16 minute mark. They would go up by as many as eight on two more occasions and actually hold a commanding 61-54 lead with nine to play.

From there on USF's fatigue both mentally and physically began to set in. The Cougars committed a few key turnovers and gave Lindenwood's players open looks, which they capitalized on. The Lions went on a 9-0 run during the next two minutes to go ahead 62-61 with 7:30 left in the game.

USF did their best to stay within striking distance, but a polished Lindenwood team made very few mistakes and demonstrated a steady shot at the free throw line down the stretch to pull out a 10-point victory in the tournament championship.

The Cougars struggled to find the back of the net in the second half, where they made just 36% of their attempts, while the Lions connected on 52% of their shots. However Lindenwood's percentage was somewhat protected, as they took 10 fewer shots because they were in the bonus during final seven minutes of the game. The Lions picked up 20 points at the stripe in the second half and scored 13 more points from the line than USF over the course of the game.

Four players posted double-digits for the winning team, including two with 20 points. Soderberg's 25 points lead all scorers. He finished 7-15 from the floor and 11-11 at the line. Teammate Alex Bazzell accounted for 21 points, most of which came at the line, where he went 13-14. Garrett Reeg and Tyler Ressel added 13 and 11, respectively.  

USF also saw four players score in double-figures. In potentially his final game, Bloch lead the way, recording a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds, his fifth this season. He finished 9-15 from the floor and 5-6 at the stripe. Bloch also added two assists, one block and one steal. Tonight's performance moves Bloch to No.22 all-time with 1077 career points for the Cougars.

Maxwell, Derek Brown and Bretson McNeal were the additional three players with 10 or more. After a monster first half, Maxwell scored just two points following the break to finish with 16 points and eight rebounds. Brown chipped in 14 points, while McNeal added 10 for USF.

The loss concludes USF's 2011-12 season.  

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