SMSU women’s basketball team comes up short against MSU-Moorhead

The Minnesota State-Moorhead women’s basketball team pulled down 17 offensive rebounds and fended off Southwest Minnesota State for a 72-62 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference win Saturday in Moorhead.

The Dragons gained a double-digit lead on the Mustangs midway through the second half and held it the rest of the way to improve to 9-7 overall and 6-6 in conference play.

Though her team didn’t get the win, SMSU head coach Allison Kruger felt her team made strides in redeeming itself following an ugly performance the previous night against Northern State when the Mustangs lost 64-46, prompting Kruger to say the team wasn’t there mentally.

“I wasn’t disappointed with the game,” Kruger said of Saturday’s performance. “We were right there, that’s the tough thing. We played pretty well offensively, we just need to step it up on the defensive end. On the road we always say you have to be 10 points better, and that’s what was proven in the game.”

Haley Thomforde and Morgan Zabel each scored 15 points to lead the Dragons, while Kaycee Charette scored 13. Kruger said there were too many times her team broke down defensively and gave Moorhead easy looks. She said the Mustangs did a good job of limiting what the Dragons were able to do in the post, a key coming into the game, but that Moorhead’s guards stepped up and made plays when they needed to.

Rebekah Rolling led the Mustangs with a season-high-19 points, and forward Alison Nagel added 18 points and eight rebounds.

Freshman point guard Mikayla Saathoff scored 10 points for SMSU (2-15 overall, 1-11 NSIC) and showed an aggressiveness on offense that Kruger has been hoping to see. Usually focused on being a facilitator, Saathoff finished the game 5-for-14 from the field.

“One thing we’ve been harping on with her since she came to campus is to shoot the ball more because she’s got a great shot,” Kruger said. “She just didn’t have that mindset to look for her shot. She started doing that (Saturday) and now we have to work on shot selection a little more with her.

“Team’s aren’t going to guard her until she proves herself, but it was nice to see her actually looking to score the ball and hopefully we can get her percentage up.”

The Mustangs finished the game shooting 41.9 percent from the field, while Moorhead was 41.7 percent. The Dragons got to the foul line much more frequently than SMSU, as they went 16-for-21 from the line compared to 5-for-6 for the Mustangs.

SMSU will try to bounce back next weekend with a pair of home games. The Mustangs will face Upper Iowa Friday and Winona State Saturday.