SMSU WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: SMSU loses season opener

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. Southwest Minnesota State committed 20 turnovers in its 78-56 non-conference season-opening loss to Missouri Western State on Friday night. The game was the first in the Tom Webb era at SMSU.

The Mustangs lost their third straight season opener dating back to the 2013-14 season. MWSU (1-0) has defeated SMSU in four straight appearances, including the Griffons’ 93-61 win over the Mustangs to open the 2015-16 campaign.

Offensively the Mustangs were led by Taylor Holicky’s 14 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Caleigh Rodning finished with 13 points in her first game as a Mustang. Lauren Hedlund added with eight points and eight rebounds.

Leading 12-11 early in the second quarter following a 3-point bucket by Jamie Spicer, the Mustangs allowed the Griffons to go on a 10-0 run over to take the lead 21-12. SMSU would get within seven with 37 seconds left but Tate drained a buzzer-beater to give MWSU a 32-22 at the break.

MWSU came out of the gates fast in the third quarter building its lead to 19 with 7:03 left to play when Julia Torres completed an and-one 3-point play. The deficit ballooned to 22 minutes later but the Mustangs would work it back down to 12 with 59 seconds left in the quarter but it was Tate again hitting a 3-pointer late. MWSU went into the fourth quarter with a 15 point lead.

SMSU again struggled at the start as the Griffons scored the first eight points of the quarter to build their lead to 23 with 7:08 to play. MWSU scored 10 points off Mustang turnovers in the fourth quarter alone and coasted to a 78-56 victory.

SMSU finished the night shooting 18 of 44 (40.9%) from the floor, including 7 of 17 (41.2%) from behind the arc and 13-18 (72.2%) from the charity stripe.

SMSU coach Tom Webb thought the Mustangs fought hard in the game.

“We got down by 20 at one point, and then we fought back and pulled within 12. They’re just starting to understand that if we play hard consistently, then we have a shot, and that’s a really good start,” said Webb. “Overall, we shot the ball well, they attacked, and there were a lot of positives I think as that goes. I was pleased with how they handled everything and they battled hard.”

SMSU returns to action today at 4:30 p.m. from the MWSU Fieldhouse as the Mustangs take on Fort Hays State in another nonconference tilt.

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