The Southwest Minnesota State women's basketball team picked up its first win of the season Saturday, holding onto a slim second-half lead for a 59-56 victory over NAIA Missouri Valley College in the Winstead-Reeves Classic in Maryville, Mo.
After getting just one player who scored more than seven points in a 93-46 blowout loss to tournament host Northwest Missouri State on Friday, the Mustangs (1-3 overall) had three players reach double figures on Saturday. Hope Bonlander led the way with 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Bree Holleman added 11 points, and Rebekah Rolling tacked on 10 points on 5 of 7 shooting.
"Hope did a great job of taking really good shots and being patient and waiting for opportunities to present themselves," SMSU head coach Allison Kruger said. "Offensively, she was calm, she was under control and she played really well for us."
Kruger said Rolling got her points mostly on layups by making herself a presence around the rim.
The Mustangs got off to a hot start early, using an 11-0 run to grab a 17-6 lead with just under 13 minutes left in the first half. A 3-pointer from Bonlander and a jumper by Holleman capped the run.
Missouri Valley (2-4) needed less than five minutes to nearly erase the deficit completely, pulling within a point at 19-18 after a jumper by Ebone Brown. The teams played neck and neck the rest of the half, and the Vikings went into the locker room up 29-26 after a layup by Sami Jackson, who finished with a game-high 16 points on 7-for-17 shooting.
Val Sahr 2-4 2-2 6, Mikayla Saathoff 1-1 2-2 4, Bree Holleman 3-9 3-6 11, Rebekah Rolling 5-7 0-1 10, Emilee Duske 0-3 4-7 4, Nathalie Svensson 0-1 0-0 0, Megan DeRuyter 0-1 0-0 0, Jessie Watts 1-1 0-0 2, Hannah Beeler 1-3 0-0 2, Hope Bonlander 5-6 2-2 13, Annessa Rosche 3-6 0-0 7, Allison Nagel 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-44 12-20 59. 3-pointers 5-12 (Bonlander 2-2, Holleman 2-5, Rosch 1-1) Rebounds 38 (Nagel 7, Beeler 5) Assists 10 Holleman 4) Steals 5 (Rosch 2) Blocks 5 (Nagel 4) Turnovers 25 Total Fouls 19.
Ebone Brown 4-13 0-0 8, Alexis Sweet 7-15 0-0 15, Gavi Morales 2-6 3-4 7, Sami Jackson 7-17 2-4 16, Cara Clark 2-4 0-0 4, Sayna Smith 2-7 0-5 4, Lindsi Jackson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 25-65 5-13 56. 3-pointers 1-9 (Sweet 1-3) Rebounds 33 (Morales 12, Sweet 7) Assists 5 (Sweet 3) Steals 9 Blocks 3 Turnovers 13 Total Fouls 19.
Halftime Score: MVC 29, SMSU 26.
The Mustangs tied the game within the first two minutes of the second half and held the lead the rest of the way. They never led by more than six points in the second half.
Missouri Vally had an opportunity to tie the game on a 3-pointer by Alexis Sweet with two seconds left, but SMSU's Hannah Beeler blocked the shot to seal the win for the Mustangs.
SMSU shot 47.7 percent from the field and held the Vikings to 38.5 percent shooting. SMSU won despite turning the ball over 25 times, compared to 13 turnovers for Missouri Valley.
"One of the things we have to work on is, it's not them making us turn the ball over," Kruger said. "We're turning the ball over and making mental errors, and that's something we can't do. It's not because of pressure, it's we're either trying to do too much or we're just not in sync yet, and that's something we really have to work on."
SMSU's Allison Nagel came off the bench and played 13 minutes, in which she hauled in a team-high seven rebounds and blocked four shots.
"For her, that's kind of been something we've been focusing on is she needs to be a defensive presence and she needs to rebound the basketball," Kruger said of Nagel. "She didn't score the ball, but she was very key in a lot of offensive possession. She did a great job of reading the defense and passing and making things happen in our offensive sets and in our motion. She was a factor for us offensively."
The Mustangs return to the court Sunday with a road game against Division I Nebraska-Omaha. It will be SMSU's second game against a D-I opponent this season. The Mustangs fell to Creighton 90-60 in an exhibition game on Oct. 31.