WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Upper Iowa holds back SMSU late

FAYETTE, Iowa – Southwest Minnesota State held Upper Iowa to 24 second-half points but the Peacocks’ 10-point halftime lead was too much to overcome during a 68-60 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference loss Friday.

Alison Nagel scored 23 points on 8 of 17 shooting for the Mustangs. It was her second career 20-plus point performance – both coming this season.

Whitney Kieffer’s 23 points and Upper Iowa’s 15 of 24 shooting in the first half were too much for Nagel and company as SMSU dropped its fourth consecutive game to UIU.

“Upper Iowa had some wide-open looks and we were not communicating, defensively,”?Southwest Minnesota State head coach Allison Kruger said. “We missed defensive assignments and they found easy ways to score. That was how they were able to build a lead.”

The Mustangs fell to 2-6 overall, 0-4 in the NSIC. The loss was SMSU’s sixth straight overall.

Upper Iowa couldn’t miss in the first half as the Peacocks hit their first 11 of 13 shots to open the game. UIU finished shooting 62.5 percent from the floor in the first half on 15 of 24 shooting, including a clean 4 of 4 from 3-point range.

Kieffer, UIU’s leading scorer at 14.3 points per game, finished the first half with a game-high 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting. Upper Iowa became the first team against the Mustangs to score 40-plus points in the first half.

The Peacocks’ hot shooting came to an end as UIU began the second half shooting just 3 of 14 to allow SMSU to close the gap to three points, but a 17-5 run that helped Upper Iowa pull away.

The defense tightened up in the second half for the Mustangs as they only allowed 24 points but the 10-point deficit couldn’t be erased. UIU finished the second half shooting just 8 of 26 – 30.8 percent from the floor.

“We focused our effort and our communication on defense in the second half,”?Kruger said. “Our communication was much better, and that was what was lacking in the first half and allowed Upper Iowa to get the lead. In the second, we really turned up our defense and gave ourselves a better chance.”

Kruger said the Mustangs were close to the lead, especially late in the game.

“We cut the lead to within three (points) a couple times toward the end of the second half, but we just couldn’t get over the hump. We missed some opportunites that we need to capitalize on to be more successful.”

Upper Iowa turned the ball over 20 times and the Mustangs converted those miscues into 21 points.

Bree Holleman knocked down her 119th career 3-pointer to move her into sixth place in school history. She finished 4 of 13 shooting from the floor, 1 of 6 from behind the arc.

SMSU travels to take on Winona State at 4 p.m. today.


SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE (2-6 OVERALL, 0-4 NSIC): Mikayla Saathoff 3-4 0-0 6, Bree Holleman 4-13 1-2 10, Jessie Watts 0-1 0-0 0, Rebekah Rolling 3-8 2-2 8, Ellen Degler 1-2 3-4 5, Hannah Beeler 1-3 2-4 4, Annessa Rosch 0-4 0-0 0, Emilee Duske 2-4 0-0 4, Alison Nagel 8-17 4-5 23. TOTALS: 22-56 (39.3%) 12-17 (70.6%) 60.

UPPER IOWA (3-5 OVERALL, 2-2 NSIC): Laura TerHark 1-3 0-0 3, Lindsay Carroll 2-7 6-6 10, Olivia Meier 0-2 1-3 1, Emily Gustafson 0-1 1-2 1, Whtney Kieffer 9-14 4-5 23, Courtney Major 0-1 0-0 0, Lauren Buck 4-8 3-4 11, Sam Thrapp 3-8 0-0 8, Carly Pagel 4-6 3-4 11. TOTALS: 23-50 (46%) 18-24 (75%) 68.

HALFTIME: Upper Iowa 44, Southwest Minnesota State 34. 3-POINT FIELD GOALS: Southwest Minnesota State 4-15 (Nagel 3-4, Holleman 1-6); Upper Iowa 4-10 (Thrapp 2-3, Kieffer 1-2, TerHark 1-1). REBOUNDS: Southwest Minnesota State 27 (Saathoff 6, Nagel 6); Upper Iowa 40 (Kieffer 7, Buck 7). TOTAL FOULS (FOULED OUT): Southwest Minnesota State 21 (None); Upper Iowa 16 (None). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Southwest Minnesota State 15 (Saathoff 5); Upper Iowa 12 (Thrapp 6). STEALS: Southwest Minnesota State 7 (Holleman 2, Rolling 2); Upper Iowa 6 (Buck 2, Pagel 2). BLOCKED SHOTS: Southwest Minnesota State 4 (Nagel 2); Upper Iowa 4 (Gustafson 2). TURNOVERS: Southwest Minnesota State 15; Upper Iowa 20.