SMSU WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: SMSU snaps pair of streaks with Hawaiian Night win over U-Mary

Photo by Sam Thiel SMSU’s Caleigh Rodning looks to score during their game against the University of Mary on Saturday. The Mustangs defeated the Marauders 73-58.

MARSHALL – Abuk Akoi tied a Southwest Minnesota State school record with seven blocked shots in addition to 11 boards as SMSU snapped a four-game losing skid with a 73-58 win over the University of Mary on Saturday night in the R/A Facility.

The win also snapped a four-game win streak for U-Mary which came into the game off of a 76-71 win at Sioux Falls on Friday night.

Caleigh Rodning led SMSU in scoring with 22 points on 8 of 16 shooting from the floor while Sadie Stelter added 19 points.

Meleah Reinhart had 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting overall while Erin Baxter had three assists and two steals despite being held to a slow night offensively.

Southwest Minnesota State shot 43 percent (27 of 63) as a team on the night in addition to a 94 percent (15 of 16) shooting night at the charity stripe.

The Mustangs dominated the post on the night, finishing with a 42-20 advantage in points in the paint. The Mustangs also took advantage of 17 U-Mary turnovers to finish with a 28-5 advantage in points off of turnovers.

Rodning said their key on defense was taking away U-Mary’s leading scorer Gabby Bohl and that Akoi’s presence in the lane changed the outcome.

“We just knew we had to take away Gabby the entire game, that’s their big scorer,” Rodning said. “Abuk did a great job defensively. She was blocking everything and then she would go pursue it with two hands. Her defense really helped us.”

Southwest Minnesota State came out on fire in the opening minutes, knocking down 10 of 15 (67 percent) first quarter field goals.

Rodning led SMSU with 12 points in the first quarter on 4 of 4 shooting from the floor while Reinhart added seven points on 3 of 3 shooting.

SMSU went on a 13-2 run during the first quarter to open up a double-digit lead, holding the Marauders to just 1 of 8 shooting over a 5:49 stretch.

The Mustangs pushed their lead to as many as 18 at the tail end of a 9-0 run before the Marauders got back into the game with a 10-0 first half run of their own.

SMSU scored eight of the final ten points in the first half to carry a 14-point advantage into the break, its largest halftime lead of the season.

The Marauders would go on a 12-1 third quarter run to get back to within single digits but SMSU followed a poor third quarter offensively with 23 fourth-quarter points as a team.

The Mustangs went 7 of 17 (41 percent) shooting in the final period and knocked down 7 of 7 free throw attempts to secure its fourth home win of the season.

SMSU coach Tom Webb said he was pleased with his team’s energy and confidence.

“We had great energy and were very confident,” Webb said. “I’m just happy for them and happy that they bounced back and fought and believed in each other and in what’s going on. It was a fun night.”

Offensively, Webb said their main key was their aggressiveness early on.

“We were just attacking; we’re hard to guard if we just stay on the bounce. If we’re passive then it becomes a whole ugly game,” Webb said. “They went to that zone and we struggled a while trying to figure it out and then we got in a rhythm and we were okay against that zone too.”

Southwest Minnesota State will return to the road next weekend for its final conference road trip of the season, taking on Wayne State on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by a Saturday afternoon contest at Augustana.

Content courtesy of SMSU Athletic Communications

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