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SMSU MEN’S BASKETBALL: Augustana 3-point shooting too much as SMSU drops second straight

Photo by Sam Thiel SMSU’s Kenny Byers puts up a shot during their game against Augustana University on Saturday. SMSU fell to Augustana 103-74.

MARSHALL — After having its five-game win streak snapped on Thursday, the Southwest Minnesota State University men’s basketball team looked to bounce back against Augustana University. But a strong shooting performance by the Vikings – led by Isaac Fink’s 37 points – pushed Augustana to a 103-74 victory on Saturday in the R/A Facility.

SMSU coach Brad Bigler said they tried to do too much, especially on the defensive end, and it ultimately hurt them.

“Sometimes as coaches, you see a gameplan and sometimes you try to get too creative,” Bigler said. “This loss was solely on me, we tried to do too much with not enough actual practice repetitions and we didn’t set our guys up for success; we tried to be too creative on the defensive end and doing some things we hadn’t done all year and it hurt us.”

It was back and forth to start, as Jake Phipps scored the first five points for the Mustangs before Augustana got a layup and a 3-pointer to tie things up at 7-7 with 16:55 left in the first half. The two sides continued to trade points over the next several minutes, with a Phipps jumper giving SMSU a 15-11 lead before the Vikings answered with a 9-3 run to take a 20-18 advantage with 10:55 left in the frame. After Augustana built an eight-point lead at 28-20, Grant Kramer connected on a 3-pointer to draw SMSU to within five, but that was the closest the Mustangs got. The Vikings drained a pair of 3-pointers to push their advantage to 42-29 with 2:50 to go in the half before taking a 51-33 lead going into the locker rooms.

The two teams would trade points to start the second half, but Augustana continued to extend its lead, as a layup and a dunk made it 66-43 with 14:41 left. SMSU continued to attack, though, with Cliff McCray getting a 3-point play to draw the Mustangs to within 17 at 68-51 with 11:40 left, but the Vikings built their lead back up to 25 on a pair of 3-pointers at 88-63 with 6:55 left and never let it get below 23 the rest of the way en route to the 103-74 final.

Kramer led SMSU with 16 points while Kenny Byers added 11 and McCray and Anthony Costello each had 10. Kramer also led in rebounds with five while Sam Schwartz led in assists with four. As a team, SMSU shot 53.1% (26 of 49) from the field, but connected on just four 3-pointers (4 of 15).

Defensively, the Mustangs allowed Augustana to shoot 58.6% (41 of 70) from the field, including 10 of 19 (52.6%) from 3-point range.

Major milestone

With 2:29 left in the first half, Byers got a layup to reach 1,000 points for his career. Bigler said he’s happy to see Byers reach that milestone and he’s extremely grateful to have him in their program.

“I think it’s one of those things when you see a guy do that, you see the pressure of that moment and now he can just play basketball,” Bigler said. “I’m just happy for him, I’m very thankful for him, he’s a great teammate and he’s a young man who just wants to win. I’m very thankful to have him a part of our program.”

Up next

SMSU (5-3 overall, 1-2 NSIC) continues its homestand next weekend, facing Winona State University on Friday at 5:30 p.m. before taking on Upper Iowa University next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Bigler said their biggest takeaway is continuing to grow as a group and try to find their offensive identity.

“We’ve just got to get back to work. I think this group has the opportunity to bounce back and grow quickly and be a good team,” Bigler said. “We’re a good team, but we do need to find a better offensive identity, our offensive identity right now we’re still trying to figure that out. We need to clean that up and find the simple play.”

Augustana 103, SMSU 74

Augustana 51 52 – 103

SMSU 33 41 – 74

Scoring: SMSU (Kramer 3-9, 7-10 16; Byers 5-7, 1-3 11; McCray 3-5, 4-4 10; Costello 4-8, 2-2 10; Phipps 3-8, 2-4 9; Benson 4-4, 0-0 8; Omot 3-4, 0-0 6; Schwartz 1-4, 2-2 4).

Rebounds: SMSU 24 (Kramer 5; Byers, Omot 4; Phipps, Costello 3).

Assists: SMSU 12 (Schwartz 4; Byers 3).

Steals: SMSU 3 (Byers, McCray, Schwartz 1).

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