Beavers hold off comeback bid by Mustang women

With leading scorer Bree Holleman knocked out of the game with an injury, the Southwest Minnesota State women’s basketball team put forth a gutsy rally but fell short to Bemidji State in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest Friday in Bemidji.

The Mustangs trailed by 10 at the half, then lost Holleman for the rest of the game after she had to be taken to the hospital with a dislocated elbow suffered early in the second half. SMSU battled back to cut the lead to a point with five minutes left, but the Beavers held on for a 57-52 victory.

SMSU head coach Allison Kruger gave credit to her squad for hanging with the Beavers despite an injury to one of their key guards.

“When your leading scorer goes down it can either go downhill in a hurry or your team can respond,” Kruger said. “Our players really rallied and it was kind of like they used Bree’s injury as a spark. They really wanted to get the game for her.”

BSU (9-10 overall, 5-10 NSIC) got a big night from 5-foot-8 junior guard Lanae Rash in the win. She hit 12 of 16 shots from the field on her way to a game-high 26 points.

SMSU guard Rebekah Rolling did her best to try to match Rash in the second half. She was in foul trouble and played less than three minutes in the first half, but ended up finishing the game with a career-high 18 points. She went 7-for-11 from the field, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

Mikayla Saathoff added 10 points for the Mustangs (3-17, 2-13), and Holleman had eight points before leaving for the hospital with her dislocated elbow.

BSU led by as many as 14 points in the second half, but SMSU cut the lead to 51-50 after a 3-pointer by Saathoff with five minutes, 16 seconds left in the game. SMSU scored just two points the rest of the game.

“We had some good looks down the stretch and just missed some shots,” Kruger said. “We also had some lapses on defense, and that in turn hurts our offense.

“Usually we have Bree in there down the stretch, but we had to go with some kids who don’t have the same experience and haven’t been in those situations before.”

The Mustangs look to bounce back today against Minnesota-Crookston in Crookston.