MARSHALL - There was a bit of a silver lining for the Southwest Minnesota State women's basketball team this weekend.
On Friday, the Mustangs played tough with No. 4-ranked Wayne State, trailing by single digits before the Wildcats shut the door on the game. And on Saturday against Augustana, SMSU held the 25th-ranked Vikings to 35.3 percent shooting in the first half.
But silver linings have not translated into victories.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Southwest Minnesota State point guard Bree Holleman (14) reads the Augustana defense during the first half of Saturday’s NSIC?game at the R/A Facility. Holleman finished with seven points.
Led by a 5-for-9 shooting performance from three-point range in the second half, Augustana pulled away from the Mustangs for a 71-61 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory Saturday at the R/A Facility.
Trailing by just two at halftime, 32-30, SMSU head coach Allison Kruger got one of her team's best defensive performances of the season in the first half. The problem came from keeping up that same defensive intensity in the second half.
"Our team did what we asked them to do in terms of staying in the game, but there was a lapse in the beginning of the second half that hurt us," Kruger said. "Maybe it didn't show in the score, but we didn't take very good shots on offense and we got out of rhythm and it was an uphill battle from there."
Alex Feeney 4-9 5-6 16, Molly Hayes 5-10 2-7 14, Emily Schulte 5-12 0-1 11, Faith Tinklenberg 3-9 3-5 9, Lydia Nelson 1-7 0-0 2, Shaunteva Ashley 3-4 4-4 11, Cami Koehn 3-5 0-0 8, Sophie Kenney 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Kneeland 0-0 0-0 0, Nicole Kerkhoff 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Meister 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Bose 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 14-23 71. Three-Pointers 9-19 Feeney 3-4) Rebounds 40 (Nelson 9) Assists 14 (Hayes 5) Steals 9 (Hayes 3, Schulte 3) Blocks 9 (Bose 5) Turnovers 14 Total Fouls 19.
Abby Kenealy 4-13 4-5 13, Taylor Voss 3-7 2-2 9, Bree Holleman 2-7 2-2 7, Hannah Beeler 2-8 2-2 6, Nathalie Svensson 1-2 0-0 2, Hope Bonlander 4-7 0-0 9, Jessie Watts 1-3 6-6 8, Courtney McCarthy 1-2 1-2 3, Sam Lynn 0-2 2-2 2, Ellen Degler 0-1 2-2 2, Emilee Duske 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 21-23 61. Three-Pointers 4-15 Rebounds 39 (Beeler 6, Duske 6) Assists 8 (Holleman 3, McCarthy 3) Steals 6 (Voss 2, Holleman 2) Blocks 1 (Bonlander) Turnovers 18 Total Fouls 17.
Halftime Score: Augustana 32, SMSU 30.
Thanks to a defense that was drawing charges and making life tough in the paint, the Mustangs forced Augustana into 1 of 9 shooting to start the game. Meanwhile, SMSU got itself to the free-throw line, converting all 13 of its shots from the charity stripe. Jessie Watts put the Mustangs (4-13 NSIC, 5-16 overall) up 22-21 following a pair of free throws, sparking a 10-0 run to put the team up 30-21.
"We definitely wanted to set the tone on defense," said SMSU senior Taylor Voss. "We know good defense leads to good offense, so we wanted to start hard on D and hopefully, offense comes from there."
But thanks to a pair of three-pointers by Cami Koehn, and five points by Faith Tinklenberg, the Vikings (14-3, 17-4) closed the first half on an 11-0 run. Augustana held SMSU to 29.6 percent shooting in the first half, and Murray County Central grad Emily Bose swatted four shots before halftime.
Things didn't change after the half, as Augustana went on a 15-6 run to start the second half. Alex Feeney hit three treys in the second half for the Vikings, leading all scorers with 16 points.
"The three-pointers definitely hurt, that's when we weren't being aggressive on defense again," said Voss, who finished with nine points. "We didn't come out wanting to get in their face. We let them hit three threes in a row."
With 7 minutes, 51 seconds left, Watts hit a pair of free throws to cut SMSU's deficit to 56-51, before the Vikings scored four straight points, putting the game out of reach. After Abby Kenealy hit a free throw with 4:29 left, the Mustangs didn't reach the scoreboard again until Kenealy hit a three with 35 seconds remaining. Kenealy was the only Mustang to reach double digits, finishing with 13 points and five rebounds.
SMSU returns to the road this weekend, heading to the Twin Cities to play Concordia-St. Paul on Friday and St. Cloud State on Saturday.