SMSU WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: SMSU battles again, but strong fourth quarter push lead Wolves to 79-62 victory
ABERDEEN, S.D. – For the second straight night, the Southwest Minnesota State women’s basketball battled one of the top teams in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference on the road, but for the second straight game the Mustangs came up short, as Northern State earned a 79-62 victory on Saturday night at Wachs Arena.
The teams were tied at 49 with three minutes and 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but the Wolves were able to pull away in the final 11 minutes to earn the win and improve to 18-4 overall, 13-3 NSIC. NSU received votes in this week’s WBCA Top 25 poll.
SMSU dropped its fourth straight game and is 4-15 overall, 3-13 NSIC.
Erin Baxter paced the Mustangs with 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Caleigh Rodning added 13 points with three rebounds and three assists. SMSU shot 44 percent (21 of 48) in game, but made just seven of 20 from the field in the second half. Abuk Akoi grabbed a team-high five rebounds for SMSU, which was outrebounded 32-28 for the game.
NSU finished the game making 10 3-pointers, while shooting 49 percent (28 of 57) from the field and committing just five turnovers. Haley Froelich led the Wolves with 16 points.
SMSU put together a strong first quarter as a Rodning 3-pointer and a layup from Sadie Stelter helped the Mustangs to an early 7-2 lead.
NSU would cut the deficit to 12-10, but a 3-pointer by Emily Buysse and a layup by Erin Baxter gave the Mustangs a 17-10 advantage with three minutes left in the quarter. NSU later cut the lead to 19-15, but Taylor Holicky would close the quarter with a 3-pointer to send SMSU into the first quarter break with a 22-15 lead.
Sara Teske would connect on a field goal to give SMSU a 24-17 advantage early in the second quarter before NSU rallied to take its first lead of the night. Gabby Laimer scored five straight points for the Wolves to cap a 9-0 run and put NSU on top 26-24 with 6:47 left in the half.
NSU would extend the lead to 38-31, its largest lead of the half, before SMSU closed the half on a jumper from Baxter and a 3-pointer by Meleah Reinhart to cut the deficit to 38-36 at halftime.
The Mustangs shot 50 percent (14 of 28) from the field in the first 20 minutes while connecting on four 3-pointers. Baxter paced SMSU with 10 first half points on 5 of 8 shooting.
SMSU would tie the game twice in the third quarter, including at 49 with 3:38 left following a Baxter 3-pointer, but NSU closed the quarter on an 8-0 run to build a 57-49 advantage after three quarters.
NSU extended the run to 10 straight points early in the fourth, before a Reinhart jumper made the score 59-51 with 8:45 left in the game. A few possessions later, Baxter hit a field goal with 7:21 left to cut the deficit to nine points at 64-55, but it was as close as the Mustangs would come the remainder of the night as NSU countered with a game-sealing 11-2 run.
Southwest Minnesota State returns home next Friday, Feb. 2, facing Minot State University starting at 6 p.m. SMSU will also play U-Mary on Saturday, Feb. 3, for “Hawaiian Night” with tip-off slated for 5 p.m.
of SMSU Athletic