Bench helps power CU women past Mustangs

Concordia-St. Paul’s bench outscored Southwest Minnesota State’s bench 31-4 Friday night as the Golden Bears rolled to a 73-59 win over the Mustangs in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women’s basketball game in St. Paul.

Reserve Amanda Barton gave Concordia-St. Paul a big spark, hitting 7 of 9 shots and scoring a game-high 17 points in 21 minutes of action. Starting forwards Kionda Nicks and Anika Whiting each scored 10 points, as did reserve Mandy Poke in a balanced scoring effort for the Golden Bears, who are in first place in the NSIC with an 18-3 record and a 20-5 mark overall.

SMSU guard Rebekah Rolling hit 6 of 10 shots, scoring 15 points to lead the Mustangs (2-19 NSIC, 4-23 overall). Forward Alison Nagel added 14 points and five rebounds, and freshman guard Annessa Rosch hit three 3-pointers and scored 13 points. Fellow freshman Mikayla Saathoff chipped in eight points, seven rebounds and five assists in the losing effort.

The Mustangs had a short bench Friday, playing just three reserves. Val Sahr went scoreless in 18 minutes, and Ellen Degler and Megan DeRuyter combined to play 14 minutes, with Degler scoring four points.

“Our depth did hurt us a little bit but we competed hard,” SMSU head coach Allison Kruger said. “We came out and hung with the top team in the conference a good portion of the game and we just had a little dry spell there in the second half where they were able to pull away.”

CU led 37-27 at the half. The Mustangs got off to a strong start to the second half, going on a 7-0 run. Hannah Beeler started things off with a 3-pointer, followed by a layup by Nagel and then a jumper by Nagel, all within the first three minutes.

Kruger had said she was impressed with the leadership Nagel showed in the team’s previous loss to Augustana College last weekend and said that the junior showed more of that on Friday night.

“Nagel got hot there and she was really scoring the ball from the inside and the outside,” Kruger said. “That’s part of what helped us make that run early in the second half.

“She was really taking charge out there and communicating effectively with her teammates in the second half, telling the kids not to give up. She did a really good job.”

The game stayed close within the first nine minutes of the half, then Barton drilled a 3-pointer with 10 minutes, 51 seconds remaining to push the Golden Bears’ lead to 54-44. SMSU never got closer than eight points from there and CU built as much as a 19-point lead down the stretch.

There weren’t many fouls called in the game, just nine against the Mustangs and 11 against the Golden Bears. CU attempted just three fouls shots, while SMSU was 8-for-10 from the free throw line.

The Mustangs close out the regular season today with a road game against the 21st-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks.

“We’re hoping to see another competitive effort and take another step at getting better,” Kruger said. “We only have eight kids right now, and when that’s all you have then you have to make due with what you’ve got.”