A horrible shooting performance by the Southwest Minnesota State women's basketball team resulted in a lopsided loss to Division I Nebraska-Omaha Sunday afternoon in Omaha, Neb.
The Mustangs shot 23.1 percent from the field and had just one starter make a basket in a 63-37 loss to the Mavericks inside Sapp Fieldhouse.
Facing UNO's zone defense, head coach Allison Kruger's Mustangs had difficulty finding any type of rhythm offensively.
"We were just being very tentative on offense and settling too much for 3-point shots," Kruger said. "They zoned us the entire game and we kind of got caught standing. We had looks, but we just couldn't convert any shots in the first half and we became stagnant offensively."
Neither team shot well in the first half. UNO (4-1 overall) was just 34.2 percent from the field, but far exceeded the Mustangs (1-4), who were an unsightly 4-for-25 shooting and scored just 10 points in the first 20 minutes of action.
Kruger said her team defended well in the first half, but gave up far too many offensive rebounds. UNO won the rebounding battle 51-33 and pulled down 20 offensive boards.
Hannah Beeler 0-5 4-4 4, Hope Bonlander 0-3 0-0 0, Mikayla Saathoff 0-3 0-0 0, Bree Holleman 3-8 1-2 10, Rebekah Rolling 0-8 0-0 0, Val Sahr 1-4 0-0 2, Megan DeRuyter 0-2 0-0 0, Jessie Watts 0-2 0-0 0, Whitney Miller 0-2 0-0 0, Annessa Rosch 1-3 0-0 3, Alison Nagel 7-12 4-4 19. Totals 12-52 9-10 37. 3-pointers 4-22 (Holleman 3-8, Nagel 1-2) Rebounds 33 (Holleman 7, Sahr 5, Beeler 5) Assists 10 (Rosch 3) Steals 7 (Nagel 3) Blocks 4 (Beeler 3) Turnovers 20 Total Fouls 11.
Talijhe Kelly 3-4 0-1 6, Carly Cator 1-3 0-0 2, Jamie Nash 3-12 0-0 6, Carolyn Blair-Mobley 3-9 1-3 8, Paige Frauendorfer 4-11 0-0 8, Ericka House 3-6 0-0 6, Casse Vaughn 5-10 1-3 11, Allison Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Cathleen Cox 4-6 0-0 10, Stacia Gebers 3-7 0-0 6, Kate Bayes 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 29-71 2-7 63. 3-pointers 3-9 (Cox 2-3, Blair-Mobley 1-1) Rebounds 51 (Blair-Mobley 10, Frauendorfer 8, Vaughn 6) Assists 16 (Cator 5, Nash 4, Cox 3) Steals 12 (Nash 6) Blocks 4 (Kelly 3) Turnovers 16 Total Fouls 10.
Halftime Score: Nebraska-Omaha 26, SMSU 10.
The shooting got better for SMSU in the second half, but not by much. The Mustangs hit on 8 of 27 attempts from the field (29.6 percent) and nearly tripled their scoring output from the first half with 27 points.
The Mavericks shot 48.5 percent in the second half and finished the game at 40.8 percent from the field. They were led in scoring by reserves Casse Vaughn and Cathleen Cox, who scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Mustangs had three starters who were held scoreless for the game. Bree Holleman was the only starter to hit a field goal in the game. She was 3-for-8 from 3-point range and finished with 10 points.
A bright spot for SMSU in the dreary game was the play of 6-foot-3 reserve forward Alison Nagel, who scored a career-high 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting in 17 minutes of action.
"She just had a mentality, she was getting tired of the way things were going and she kind of took over the game for us, and it was on both ends of the court," Kruger said of Nagel.
Nagel and Holleman were the only SMSU players to score more than four points and make more than one shot in the game.
Sunday's contest was the second time SMSU has played a Division I opponent this season. The Mustangs' exhibition opener was against the Creighton Bluejays, an NCAA Tournament team a year ago. SMSU also played Pittsburg State (Kan.), one of the top-ranked teams in Division II.
Kruger hopes the challenging schedule will benefit her team as it enters conference play.
"Some of the things you worry about with the tough schedule is the confidence of your team, but at the same time I think you learn a lot about your team as the opponents exploit things you need to work on. That's going to help you eventually," Kruger said.
"Some of these schools that play pretty easy schedules, their weaknesses aren't exploited and then it's hard to know what you need to work on, what you should focus on getting better at. That's something that I hope will benefit us in the long run is we've been tested early and we know what we need to work on and hopefully we can just continue to get after these things in practice and continue to get better."
The Mustangs play their first regular season home game on Saturday when they host Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference newcomer Sioux Falls at 5 p.m. at the R/A Facility for the team's conference opener.