SMSU women fall short to UMC in overtime

Rebekah Rolling hit a 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds left in regulation to help Southwest Minnesota State erase a late deficit and force overtime, but the Mustangs ran out of gas in the extra frame and Minnesota-Crookston held on for a 76-72 win Saturday in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women’s basketball action in Crookston.

Playing without starting guard Bree Holleman, who dislocated her elbow the previous night, the Mustangs got off to a sluggish start and fell behind 13-2. SMSU answered with a 13-2 run of its own to tie the game, but slowed down the rest of the half and went into the locker room trailing 32-25.

Annessa Rosch got the start for the Mustangs in Holleman’s place and was one of two starting freshmen for the Mustangs along with Mikayla Saathoff. SMSU head coach Allison Kruger said her team took some time to get its bearings without Holleman on the court.

“It was an adjustment because we had finally felt that we had a solid rotation,” Kruger said. “Then you take a kid out who plays 30 minutes a game and it throws everyone off. But it wasn’t one person trying to take over for Bree. It was a team effort.”

The Golden Eagles (7-13 overall, 4-12 NSIC) built a 13-point lead early in the second half. SMSU (3-18, 2-14) kept chipping away and cut the lead to down to six with one minute, 57 seconds left in the game. Rolling hit a 3-pointer for the Mustangs with 28 seconds left, then UMC’s Ebony Livingston missed two free throws to give the Mustangs the ball back with a chance to tie.

There was a long delay with 13 seconds left on the clock as the officials tried to figure out how many timeouts SMSU had left, but SMSU came out of the stoppage and got another big 3 from Rolling to send the game to overtime.

“All five kids on the court in the last 13 seconds, I have to give them a lot of credit,” Kruger said. “There was a question about the number of timeouts we had and a long delay, and that was upsetting because the kids were just standing out there on the court. How would they react? Would they freeze up or be cold? No, they executed the play perfectly and Rebekah hit a tough shot with a defender in her face.”

SMSU took a two-point lead with 2:50 left in overtime after Saathoff drilled a 3, but the Mustangs failed to score after that and UMC pulled out the four-point win.

Forwards Alison Nagel and Ellen Degler had strong games for SMSU in the loss. Nagel was 8-for-14 shooting with 19 points, while Degler was 5-fot-8 shooting with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench. Kruger said those two, along with reserve forward Hannah Beeler, got the offense going in the second half with good ball movement to help SMSU get back in the game.

UMC was led by Brittani Wiese, who scored a game-high 24 points with six rebounds and three assists.

SMSU is back on the court Friday night, starting a four-game home stretch against the University of Mary.