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SMSU WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: SMSU season comes to a close with heartbreaking loss at USF

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Southwest Minnesota State women’s basketball team had its season come to a heartbreaking close on Sunday afternoon suffering an 88-83 overtime loss to the University of Sioux Falls in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play inside the Stewart Center.

SMSU and USF battled in a winner-take-all match-up with the winner earning a spot in next week’s eight-team NSIC Sanford Health Tournament. SMSU, which defeated USF on Saturday, ends the season 9-5 overall and 7-5 in the NSIC South.

SMSU, along with Concordia-St. Paul, Minnesota State and USF all finished with five losses in league play, but CSP, MSU and USF all played at least one more game and finished percentage points ahead of SMSU. SMSU closed with a .583 winning percentage, while MSU and USF both finished at .615. Due to COVID 19, the NSIC Tournament was reduced to just eight teams with the top four in each division qualifying for the tournament.

On Sunday, in a game that featured 10 lead changes and was tied eight times, SMSU’s Meleah Reinhart scored a career-high 28 points on 9 of 19 shooting with three 3-pointers, while teammate Sadie Stelter added a season-high 23 points on 8 of 14 from the field and three 3-pointers. Abuk Akoi also had a big game with 14 points, a season-high 12 rebounds and six blocked shots. The six blocked shots push her career total to 187, becoming the program’s all-time leader. Chrishawn McArthur (1993-96) held the previous mark at 183.

USF (8-5, 8-5 NSIC South) had three players reach 20-plus points in the game with Krystal Carlson scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Anna Brecht scored 22 points with Anna Goodhope adding 20 points and five assists.

SMSU shot 41 percent (30 of 74) with eight 3-pointers on 28 attempts in the game but made just 3 of 8 field goals in overtime. USF, which held a 50-40 rebound advantage, shot 42 percent (32 of 76) with five 3-pointers, but made 4 of 5 field goals and were 6 of 6 from the foul line in overtime.

SMSU committed 14 turnovers, while USF had 12 turnovers, but the Cougars held a 21-7 scoring advantage in points off turnovers.

The two teams played a high-scoring opening quarter with USF holding a 25-19 advantage after 10 minutes. The lead would extend to 32-21 early in the second quarter but SMSU would slowly cut into the deficit before finally taking the lead. Trailing 36-30, Jenna Borchers connected with a 3-pointer and was followed by a Reinhart layup and a basket from Akoi to give the Mustangs a 37-36 lead with 1:20 left in the half. USF stopped the run with a field goal to take a 38-37 halftime advantage.

USF would build a 44-39 margin midway through the third quarter but once again SMSU answered and regained the lead at 50-48 with 1:33 left on a three-point play by Stelter. The lead would push to 53-50 following a 3-pointer by Erin Baxter, but the Cougars closed the final minute of the quarter with four straight points to take a 54-53 lead into the fourth.

Reinhart drilled a 3-pointer to open the fourth and SMSU would maintain a lead for much of the first six minutes, including 66-62 with just over four minutes left after a three-point play by Borchers.

Unfortunately, SMSU would go without a field goal for nearly four minutes as USF rallied to regain the advantage at 70-67 with less than a minute remaining. Stelter then came through in a big way for the Mustangs as she was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 57 seconds left and made all three free throws to tie the game. Goodhope followed with a 3-pointer to put USF back in the lead, but Stelter would send the game into overtime with a clutch 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining to make the score 73-73.

USF’s Lauren Sanders connected on her only field goal of the game on nine attempts with a big 3-pointer in overtime to give the Cougars an 80-75 lead with 3:10 on the clock. SMSU would cut the deficit to 80-79 following a Stelter layup and free throws by Reinhart, but USF would make all six free throw attempts and score a field goal in the final 1:20 to seal the victory.

SMSU has seven seniors on the roster with Akoi, Baxter, Mateya Hutton, Reinhart, Caleigh Rodning, Stelter, Sara Teske, but several may return to next year’s team due to the NCAA COVID-19 waiver.

Saturday

SMSU 77, USF 54

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Southwest Minnesota State women’s basketball team kept its postseason hopes alive on Saturday afternoon with a convincing 77-54 road victory over the University of Sioux Falls inside the Stewart Center.

Jenna Borchers scored a game-high 23 points on 8 of 15 shooting with four 3-pointers to pace the Mustangs, while teammate Meleah Reinahrt added 17 points on three 3 3-pointers and a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line. Abuk Akoi also reached doubles figures in scoring with 10 points, grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and recorded two blocked shots. She now has 183 career blocked shots, tying Chrishawn McArthur (1993-96) atop the program record book.

SMSU finished the night shooting 42 percent (25 of 60) from the field, including a blistering 13 of 26 from 3-point range. SMSU, which trailed 33-28 at halftime, while shooting 28 percent, came out on fire in the second half, shooting 59 percent in a decisive third quarter and shot 50 percent in the fourth quarter.

SMSU used a huge third quarter run to seal the win and earn just its second victory over USF in the last 15 games. Trailing 36-28 early in the second half, Borchers, Sadie Stelter and Reinhart each hit 3-pointers in an 11-0 run that put the Mustangs in front at 39-36 with 7:57 left in the third.

USF would hold a 42-41 lead with five minutes left in the third, but a Akoi layup started a 14-0 run to close the quarter and put SMSU in the lead at 55-42 after three. The Mustangs made 5 of 6 shots during the run and held USF to 0 for 6 shooting with two turnovers.

Akoi started the fourth quarter with a pair of field goals to push the run to 18 straight points over a six-and-a-half-minute span and make the score 59-42. USF would finally break the scoreless drought with a field goal, but SMSU answered with eight straight points, capped by an Erin Baxter 3-pointer to extend the lead to 67-44.

SMSU held a 12-10 advantage after one quarter of play and build a 15-10 lead early in the second quarter, but USF used an 8-2 run to gain an 18-17 lead. USF would later score seven straight points to take a six-point, 30-24 lead with 1:33 remaining in the half and then used a last-second 3-pointer by Anna Goodhope to take the 33-28 halftime lead.

— Content courtesy

of SMSU Athletic

Communications

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