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(1)University of Saint Francis
Men's Basketball - Wed, Mar. 9, 2016

March 9, 2016


POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – After Adam Hofer's 3-pointer with six minutes and six seconds remaining, Dakota State (S.D.) trimmed top-ranked University of Saint Francis' (Ind.) lead to 80-78 Wednesday afternoon at Keeter Gymnasium, the Cougars closed the game by outscoring the Trojans 16-3 in the final 5:34 for a 96-81 victory in the first round of the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball National Tournament hosted by the College of the Ozarks.

The Trojans – seeded No. 8 in the Naismith bracket of the national tournament – began an early three-point barrage, who hit on 10-of-14 treys in the first-half.  Dakota State built a 15-point lead at 10:01 on the clock of the half, 31-16, after a three-pointer by Derek Meger

Though Austin Fox led a Saint Francis retaliation, DSU emerged with a 48-47 halftime advantage.  The Cougars closed the first-half with a 31-17 run.

USF – the top seed in the Naismith bracket and the number one overall seed in the thirty-two team championship field – shot 62.1 percent in the first-half by making 18 baskets in 29 attempts.  Dakota State went 58.6 percent from the field in the first twenty minutes (17-of-29).

The Trojans and Cougars traded lead or tied the game in the first seven minutes of the game.  Leading 71-69, USF went on to score five straight points to open up a 76-69 lead with 7:28 remaining.

Hofer shot two straight 3-pointers as the Trojans trimmed Cougars' lead within two points with 6:06 to go in the game.

Dakota State was held to one field goal in the final 5:34 of the game – a basket by Meger with 2:55 left to cut USF's lead to 87-80.

The Cougars secured the victory by making all five free-throws in the final 1:17 of the game.

Saint Francis outscored Dakota State 49-33 in the second-half.  The Cougars shot 68 percent (17-of-25) and 5-of-7 from the 3-point line.  The Trojans were 50 percent from the field (14-of-28) and 4-of-11 3-pointers.

There were a total of 15 lead changes and 8 ties in the game.

DSU placed five players in double figures, paced by Hofer with 16 points (6-of-10 field goals, 4-of-7 3-pointers).  Meger went 6-of-7 from the field (2-of-2 from the 3-point arc) for 14 points.  Ian Barse and Tanner Heiser each added 12 points.  Kyle Kilgore scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds. 

Taylor Zirbel had six points and pulled down five rebounds off the bench for the Trojans.  He had two blocked shots.  Meger and Hofer each had four rebounds.  Hofer dished out two assists.

Fox recorded a game-high 31 points on his 12-of-19 field goal shooting for USF.  He was 7-of-9 free-throws.  Jordan Hahn went 6-of-8 from the field, including 4-of-5 3-pointers for 16 points off the bench.  Seth Small had 15 points.  Kegan Comer scored 14 points, while Evan Henry had 11 points.

Fox registered seven rebounds.  Small added four rebounds and produced four assists.  Henry stole the ball three times. 

Saint Francis shot 64.8 percent overall from the field (35-of-54) compared to Dakota State 54.4 percent (31-of-57).  The Trojans were 14-of-27 from the 3-point line (51.9 percent) while the Cougars made 11 3-pointers in 18 tries 61.1 percent). 

USF was 15-of-19 from the free-throw line (78.9 percent).  DSU made five free-throws in 10 attempts (50 percent).

Both teams recorded 24 rebounds in the game. 

It was the final collegiate career basketball game for Trojans' three seniors – Meger, Zirbel and Jay Huls.

Dakota State finished their 2015-16 season with an overall record of 19-14, snapping their school-record nine-game winning streak.  The Trojans started the season with 6-11 overall record and finished the season by winning 13 of the last 16 games.  DSU earned back-to-back North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) conference regular-season and tournament titles and made their fourth trip to the national tournament in the last five years.

Saint Francis moves on to the second round, facing fourth-seed Mount Mercy (Iowa) – a 98-97 overtime thriller over fifth-seed Southern Oregon (coached by former Trojan men's basketball head coach Brian McDermott) earlier Wednesday in the Naismith bracket.

Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director

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