SMSU WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Mustangs drop exhibition game against UND

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The Southwest Minnesota State University women’s basketball closed out its pre-Christmas schedule with an 85-62 exhibition loss to Division I University of North Dakota on Monday night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Though it was an exhibition game for SMSU, it was a regular season contest for UND, which improves to 7-3 overall. The Fighting Hawks were picked to finish second in the Big Sky Conference this season after tying for first during the 2016-17 Big Sky season.

Caleigh Rodning led the Mustangs with 12 points and seven rebounds while Lauren Hedlund added nine points with all coming from the free throw line. Meleah Reinhart, Erin Baxter, Taylor Holicky and Sadie Stelter all chipped in with seven points.

SMSU shot 38 percent (17 of 45) from the field, including six of 13 from 3-point range, but committed 25 turnovers which led to 29 points for UND. UND also held a 46-35 rebound advantage which led to a 21-4 advantage in second chance points.

UND blew past SMSU in the game’s opening five minutes scoring the game’s first 19 points. Stelter ended the Mustang drought with a three-point play and sparked the Mustangs to close the quarter on a 19-3 run to cut the deficit to 22-19.

The SMSU rally continued into the second quarter Rodning hit a jumper to cut the deficit to one point, before Sarah Buysse drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 24 at the 7:12 mark. Stelter would later connect on a jumper to tie the game at 26 with 6:46 left in the quarter, before UND reeled off nine straight points to make the score 35-26, before Buysse hit another 3-pointer to end the run.

SMSU would later cut the UND lead to three points-including 37-34 with three and a half minutes left-before the Fighting Hawks closed the half on an 8-0 run to build a 45-34 halftime lead.

SMSU shot 45 percent in the opening half but committed 17 turnovers.

Rodning opened the third quarter with a field goal to cut the deficit to 45-36, but UND answered with a 15-5 spurt to push the lead to 60-41 with six minutes remaining and never looked back.

UND closed the game shooting 42 percent from the field with four 3-pointers. Lexi Klabo led the Fighting Hawks with 26 points on 11 of 17 shooting with four assists, three steals and two blocked shots.

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