The University of Sioux Falls held off a late surge by Southwest Minnesota State to take the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener at the R/A Facility on Saturday evening, 77-66. The win was the first NSIC win in its first try for the Cougars since joining the conference this season. With the loss, SMSU drops to 1-5 overall, 0-1 in NSIC play.
SMSU was led by Alison Nagel’s 17 points; she finished the game just one rebound short of her first career double-double (17 points, 9 rebounds). Bree Holleman rounded out double-digit scoring as she netted 15 points. The Mustangs finished the game shooting 37.5 percent (24-64) from the floor, including 29.4 percent (5-17) from 3-point range.
On the first defensive possession of the game, the Mustangs lost starter, Val Sahr for the rest of the game due to injury. SMSU would start the game off with energy, as the Mustangs jumped out to a 7-2 lead capped by two Hannah Beeler free throws. USF would close the gap and tie the game at 8-8 with a Jaicee Ulmer 3-pointer. From there, USF would go on a 12-2 run to extend its lead to 20-10. The run forced a Mustang timeout by head coach Allison Kruger. Out of the timeout, SMSU would respond with an 8-5 run to shrink the lead to seven points, but turnovers and missed jumpers late in the half allowed USF to grow its lead back to 12. The Cougars would head into halftime with the score 39-27.
In the first half, the Mustangs shot just 25.8 (8-31) percent from the floor but were aggressive on the offensive side of the ball in order to get to the foul line. The Mustangs shot 80 percent from the charity stripe as they hit 8 of 10 shots in the first half. Alison Nagel led SMSU on both sides of the ball as she had 13 points and seven rebounds. SMSU would out-rebound the Cougars on both the offensive and defensive glass in the first half as the Mustangs had 25 rebounds (9/16) to the Cougars’ 23 (8-15).
SMSU would come out of the gates nicely in the second half as Nagel connected on a jumper to cut the lead to 10. Shortly after, SMSU would go on a 10-2 run to cut the Cougar lead to two points as Annessa Rosch found Bree Holleman cutting to the basketball for an open layup. USF would stop the bleeding with Laura Johnson’s two free throws.
USF would grow its lead back to double-digits as Lauren McKinnis connected on a layup with 8:22 remaining.
With 6:06 remaining in the game, the Mustangs found themselves down 65-51, but SMSU wouldn’t go down quietly. The Mustangs put together a 12-3 run to pull within five as Mikayla Saathoff finished an old-fashion three point play with 1:30 remaining. That was the closest the Mustangs would get as the Cougars sealed its first NSIC win in school-history when Baily Bouman swished a three on USF’s very next possession. The Cougars would take the tilt 77-66.
The Cougars were led by a four players that recorded double-digits. Jaicee Ulmer had a game-high 18 points, while Lauren McKinnis (17), Laura Johnson (15) and Alyssa Rushton (11) followed.
USF out-rebounded SMSU 41-40, including 14-13 on the offensive glass.
The Mustangs will travel to Sioux Falls to take on the Vikings of Augustana College next weekend, Dec. 7. Game-time is slated for 6 p.m.
Courtesy: Adam Henning, Assistant Athletic Communications Director, Southwest Minnesota State University