WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: No. 22 Wildcats run to victory versus SMSU

MARSHALL – NCAA Division II No. 22-ranked Wayne State used a 15-4 second half run to pull away from Southwest Minnesota State during a 67-50 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game Saturday at the R/A Facility.

Wayne State’s Millie Niggeling finished with a game-high 19 points as the Wildcats (10-0 overall, 3-0 NSIC) won their 10th straight game of the season.

Southwest Minnesota State (2-5 overall, 0-3 NSIC) has lost eight straight contests to Wayne State.

“Something that we can take away from this weekend is, that for 30 to 35 minutes, we were neck-and-neck with two of the best teams in the nation,” SMSU head coach Allison Kruger said. “We did some really good things against two really good teams. Our players need to recognize that we can play like that, if we can learn how to finish at the end of each half.”

The Mustangs built a 13-9 lead in the early minutes, but the lead slipped away as the Wildcats used a 16-2 run over the next four minutes to take a commanding 25-15 advantage. Wayne State’s lead grew to as many as 15 points with 2:53 remaining in the first half, when Niggeling drained a 3-pointer.

SMSU ended the first half on a positive note as the Mustangs went on a 5-0 run to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 38-28 at the break.

The key factor in the Wildcats’ 16-2 run midway through the first half was that Southwest Minnesota State couldn’t keep control of the ball, turning it over 12 times in that stretch. Despite the high amount of turnovers, SMSU kept in the game with its 46.4 percent (13 of 28) shooting from the floor.

The Mustangs continued to cut into the Wayne State lead early in the second half. SMSU trailed by four points when Alison Nagel connected with a jumper to put the score at 46-42. But that was the closest the Mustangs would get as the Wildcats retaliated with a 15-4 run over the next six minutes to pull away for good.

“We seem to struggle near or at the end of each half,” Kruger said. “We have to find a way to push through those times in the game.”

SMSU finished 23 of 54 from the floor (42.6 percent), but committed 19 total turnovers and made just 1 of 10 shots from 3-point range. Wayne State finished 15 of 24 at the free-throw line, while the Mustangs attempted only six free throws in the game.

“We shot the ball well, overall. One thing that we corrected in Saturday night’s game is that we didn’t go for the 3-point shot as much compared to other games this season,” Kruger said. “We looked to get better shooting opportunities and that was a positive. We took and made good shots, but we turned the ball over too much, which meant we didn’t get enough opportunities to shoot.”

Nagel finished with 19 points – her season average – on 8 of 12 shooting with three rebounds, and five assists.

“Alison has been very consistent and that has been very important to us,” Kruger said. “Offensively, she is scoring the basketball really well and she’s finding a way to shoot the ball from the perimeter. We need to look at getting her more touches overall, but especially down low, where we can put pressure on our opponents.”

SMSU continues NSIC action on the road with games versus Winona State on Friday and Upper Iowa on Saturday.



At R/A Facility

WAYNE STATE (10-0 OVERALL, 3-0 NSIC): Michaela Barry 0-0 0-0 0, Kara Powell 2-3 0-0 4, Gabrielle Root 0-0 0-0 0, Ashton Yossi 1-6 3-4 5, Ellen Hansen 0-3 0-0 0, Addy Roller 2-5 3-6 11, Whitney Olson 2-5 0-0 6, Millie Niggeling 8-11 2-4 19, Jaylan Spencer 3-6 4-4 10, Jordan Spencer 4-8 3-4 11, Shantel Lehmann 2-4 0-2 4. TOTALS: 24-51 (47%) 15-24 (63%) 67.

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (2-5 OVERALL, 0-3 NSIC): Mikayla Saathoff 1-5 0-0 2, Bree Holleman 3-10 0-0 6, Megan DeRuyter 0-0 0-0 0, Jessie Watts 2-2 1-1 5, Rebekah Rolling 3-7 2-2 8, Ellen Degler 0-1 0-0 0, Hannah Beeler 0-2 0-2 0, Kendra Snaza 3-5 0-1 6, Whitney Miller 1-4 0-0 2, Annessa Rosch 0-3 0-0 0, Emilee Duske 2-3 0-0 4, Alison Nagel 8-12 0-0 17. TOTALS: 23-54 (43%) 3-6 (50%) 50.

HALFTIME: Wayne State 38, Southwest Minnesota State 28. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Wayne State 4-16 (Olson 2-4, Roller 1-2, Niggeling 1-2, Powell 0-1, Hansen 0-2, Yossi 0-5); Southwest Minnesota State 1-10 (Nagel 1-1, Saathoff 0-1, Beeler 0-1, Miller 0-1, Rosch 0-1, Rolling 0-2, Holleman 0-3). REBOUNDS: Wayne State 34 (Ja. Spencer 9, Hansen 6); Southwest Minnesota State 31 (Rosch 6). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Wayne State 11 (none); Southwest Minnesota State 19 (none). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Wayne State 11 (Roller 7); Southwest Minnesota State 13 (Holleman 6). STEALS: Wayne State 8 (Roller 2, Ja. Spencer 2); Southwest Minnesota State 6 (Holleman 2). BLOCKED SHOTS: None. TURNOVERS: Wayne State 13; Southwest Minnesota State 19.