NSIC TOURNAMENT: SMSU’s season comes to a close in Moorhead

MOORHEAD – The Southwest Minnesota State women’s basketball season came to a close on Wednesday following a 70-53 loss at MSU Moorhead in the first round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference/Sanford Health Women’s Basketball Tournament.

MSU Moorhead, the No. 2 seed from the North Division, improves to 23-4 overall and advances to the tournament quarterfinals on Sunday night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. MSUM is also ranked No. 4 in this week’s NCAA Central Region rankings.

SMSU, the No. 7 seed from the South Division, ends its season with a 5-21 overall record.

SMSU was led by Caleigh Rodning who scored a team-high 17 points with two 3-pointers and also grabbed a team-high five rebounds. Sadie Stelter added 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers.

The Mustangs finished the game shooting 33 percent (19 of 57), including 5 of 21 from behind the 3-point arc.

MSUM used a game-high 21 points off the bench from Kiley Borowicz, while Megan Hintz chipped in with 12 points and eight rebounds. The Dragons closed the game shooting 42 percent (25 of 59) from the field, which included 6 of 25 from 3-point range. MSUM also held a 46-30 rebound advantage.

MSUM scored the game’s first five points and exploded out to a 24-8 lead at the first quarter break. SMSU made just 2 of 14 shots in the opening quarter and committed four turnovers. MSUM would later extend the lead to 35-14 midway through the second quarter, before taking a 41-21 halftime lead.

The Dragons pushed the lead to its largest of the night at 43-21 early in the third quarter, but the Mustangs wouldn’t go away, using an 11-0 run, to pull back into the game. Erin Baxter started the run with four straight points, before Emily Buysse drilled a 3-pointer to make the score 45-32. Rodning would later hit two free throws before Meleah Reinhart scored on a layup with two minutes left the quarter to cut the deficit to 45-36.

MSUM would push the lead back to 13 points, but a 3-pointer by Rodning at the buzzer to end the quarter made the score 51-41 after three quarters.

MSUM put any thoughts of an SMSU upset right away making its first three field goals of the fourth quarter along with two free throws to build a 59-43 advantage at the 7:30 mark.

Baxter hit a jumper to cut the lead to 62-49 midway through the quarter, but MSUM answered with six straight points and held SMSU scoreless for more than three minutes to seal the win.

Wednesday’s game was the final for a pair of SMSU seniors, Lauren Hedlund and Taylor Holicky. Hedlund closes her career scoring 1,113 points with 705 rebounds, which ranks fifth in team history. She also finished sixth in team history with 314 free throws made. Holicky scored 444 career points and finishes ninth in team history with 81 blocked shots.

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SMSU Athletic